CEBU CITY -- Mayoral candidate Georgia Osmeña, younger sister of the mayor, has been refused a VIP pass to the grandstand for Sunday's Sinulog grand parade.
Calling the act unfair, she said it contradicts City Hall's appeal for candidates not to take advantage and politicize the Sinulog.
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"In the past years, I had tickets. Now, not even one. I told Mike (Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama) last Friday, he said, 'Get it from my secretary,' who said wala na daw (there are no more) tickets," Georgia said.
Asked why Georgia was not given a ticket, Rama told Sun.Star Cebu in a telephone interview that she should ask the mayor.
"Dili lang ko mo-comment. Kahibalo na ka ngano. Kay unsa man na siya ron? Dili ba modagan siya'g mayor? Mas maayo adto siya mangayo sa iyang igsoon (You know why. Isn't she running for mayor this year? It's better if she asks her brother)," Rama said.
He and Georgia are set to clash in the May 10, 2010 elections for the post Mayor Tomas Osmeña will vacate this June.
Told of Rama's words, Georgia said it was "very unfair" and demonstrated "abuse of discretionary power."
"Just because I'm running for mayor? It's really pang-aapi. I want to (go to the grandstand) but how can I go? I don't have a ticket," Georgia said.
Rama is the chairman of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. and overall chairman of Sinulog 2010.
In last year's Sinulog, upon the order of the mayor, former Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson Jonah John Rodriguez was escorted out of the grandstand's VIP area.
Rodriguez had been previously convicted of sending nasty messages to the mayor's wife, Margot. In last year's parade, the mayor was in the United States, but he was available via tele-conferencing and was informed of Rodriguez's presence.
Georgia said this year is the first time she was not given any ticket to the grandstand after so many years.
She said she sent a text message to Vice Mayor Rama last Monday about her pass, and was told to get it from a certain Judith in his office.
Judith, Georgia said, told her to call on Friday for the pass, but she was not given any by day's end.
It also happened to be her birthday.
"They're saying not to politicize the Sinulog. But by denying me the ticket, isn't he politicizing it? He said he don't want the see the Sinulog politicized. The Sinulog is supposedly for everybody," Georgia said.
She said she does not want to ask her brother because it was always Rama whom she dealt with in the past.
Meanwhile, Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Ricky Ballesteros said the organizers will recognize institutions and individuals who helped shape the festivity during the awarding of winners on Monday.
These include Dolly Suzara, who contacted the seven universities that joined the first Sinulog; former mayors Florentino Solon and Ronald Duterte; and four contingents that won at least three grand prizes.
"Dili mahimo ang Sinulog kung dili nila. Dili mahimo ang Sinulog kung wala sila. Gani, gikataw-an sila pirmiro pagsugod nila sa Sinulog (Without them, there would be no Sinulog. They endured ridicule when they started the Sinulog)," said Ballesteros.
Those whom the SFI will honor also include David Odilao, former vice mayor Renato Osmeña, Titang Diola, University of San Carlos, University of the Visayas, University of Southern Philippines, Cebu Institute of Technology, Cebu Technological University (formerly Cebu School of Arts and Trade), University of Cebu, and Southwestern University.
Choreographers Emilio "Jojin" Pascual, Victor Cuenco, Val Sandiego, brothers Norman and Dennis Navarro, and Mike Gonzales were also asked to be there.
Ballesteros said for winning the grand prize nine times, SWU will be feted, along with Tangub City (seven wins), Sandiego Dance Troupe (three wins) and Lumad Basakanon (three wins).
A posthumous recognition will also be given to former Sinulog executive director Juan "Dodong" Aquino along with Duterte.
Ballesteros said the first members of the SFI board of directors -- Solon, Duterte, Ramon "Nito" Durano III, Paterno Luym, Esteban Go Sing Kung, Francisco Benedicto, Augusto W. Go, Joseph Gaisano, Lim Liu, Segundino Go, Anos Fonacier, Amando Martinez Jr., and Jose Lardizabal -- will likewise be honored.
Monday's awarding will feature the repeat performances of Sunday's winners, particularly the five top contingents each in the Sinulog-based and free interpretation categories.
The three best in street dancing contingents will also be there during the awarding at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Ballesteros said tickets, at P75 each, are available upon entry to the venue. (RHM/Sun.Star Cebu)