OVER 200 foreign tourists and balikbayans were treated to a free party and entertainment by the Balik Cebu Committee and the Cebu City Tourism Commission (CCTC) officials.

Several balikbayans and overseas Filipino workers said they are impressed with the preparations made by the officials of Balik Cebu and CCTC in welcoming them.

Cel Bacalla, who runs a medical business in California for two decades now, said, “It is overwhelming and very impressive at the same time, they really exerted an effort in welcoming us.

It’s really good to be home.”

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He said that even the staging of a concert for them and the “thoughtfulness” of the organizing committee made him appreciate more his homeland.

Bacalla said they always come home in time for the Sinulog to give thanks and pay homage to the miraculous Sto. Niño.

Meanwhile, Balik Cebu chairperson Tetta B. Baad said that the number of tourists and balikbayans who came for the 30th celebration of Sinulog has decreased.

“During last year’s Balik Cebu party, we prepared 500 seats.

We were already filled yet there were still people coming and we were not able to accommodate all of them. This year is different. Wala kaayo’y nanglarga and I think it’s because of the global economic crisis,” Baad said.

Baad, however, added that the less number of foreign tourists and balikbayans this year did not stop them from organizing an event for the benefit of those who came home.

Baad said that they only want the balikbayans to “refresh their spirit and renew their roots because you never stop being a Cebuano when you’re outside the country.”

Officials of the Balik Cebu and CCTC also staged a Handumanan Concert, which showcased at least 31 Cebuano songs and dances from the 1940s to 2000.

Performing in the concert were the dancers and singers of the University of Southern Philippines, Cebu-based singer Chad Borja, and Cebu City Vice-Mayor, over-all head of the Sinulog Grand Parade Michael Rama.