ON THE whole, it keeps getting better, the Sinulog celebration.

Lasting more than a week, various treats show the facets of the theme “One Beat, One Dance, One Vision.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

Religious processions, fluvial parades, re-enactments of the first mass, novenas, mañanitas, street fairs, photo exhibits, nightly cultural shows and street party bands, beauty tilts, talent fests, big bike rallies, video documentary contests, celebrities galore, fireworks and awarding ceremonies… imagine the preparations that went into these, the planning and meetings and coordination and status reports, the problem solving, the pursuit of funds and logistical support; in short, everything one needs to build a city.

As if SM City’s Northwing isn’t a refuge for tired eyes enough, it was the venue for showcasing Cebuano talents who, by their accomplishments, have created their own niches. “Cebu, Cebu” featured Cebu’s finest in art, fashion, furniture, food, music and faith: Annie Chen, Kenneth Cobonpue, Romulo Galicano, E. Billy Mondonedo, Philip Rodriguez and Raki Urbina.

Seven artists (Boy Briones, Carly Florido, Jonathan and Romulo Galicano, Jun Impas, Dodong Tallo and Pepe Villadolid) also exhibited their paintings and even raffled off some of their paintings.

This was my 30th year as a Sinulog judge. My good friend Dolly M. Suzara, project director of Sinulog Foundation, Inc., made sure of that. For 30 years now, we hear from each other only about twice a year, max. But when she calls, I jump the gun and just say, “Okay, my dear, you can use me again.” And our call is about the shortest there can be between friends.

This year’s contestants for the On-Site Décor contest and the Visual Merchandising contest made it worth our while… let me correct myself… worth braving the traffic jam, people spilling out of the sidewalks and blocking the streets, turning blind to traffic lights and deaf to cars honking. On ordinary days, they would’ve been whistled back to the sidewalks. But hey, this was Sinulog time, that one Saturday and one Sunday in a year when people reclaim the streets, either under the guise of being taxpayers or being marginalized by vendors and peddlers who have terrorized the sidewalks.

Fourteen contestants joined the On-Site Décor contest, while only four made it to the Visual Merchandising category. Despite the few for the latter, I particularly liked Elizabeth Mall (E-Mall) for its carved framework and pedestal for the Sto. Niño, and the thank-you letters for favors granted. Had those letters been handwritten and shown the names of the writers, the impact would’ve been powerful.

For the On-Site Décor contest, my fellow judges and I observed some rehashes among the entries. Understandably, they got low ratings for originality and ingenuity out of the 25 percent max.

A number of the entries rated low in “Discreet Use of Advertisements.” Some screamed the name of their company, even hanging this heavily above the Sto. Niño image. Others just flagrantly advertised themselves, using the Sto. Niño merely as a prop. A pity… to celebrate the Sinulog and entirely miss the point.