FRENCH dignitaries were awed by the performances in yesterday’s grand parade, but what impressed them more was the Cebuanos’ devotion to the Sto. Nino and the efforts the local officials and the performers put in giving thanks to the patron.

France’s ambassador to the Philippines, Thierry Borja de Mozota, and four other officials from the French Embassy took a break from their official business in Cebu to watch the Sinulog grand parade yesterday.

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Dressed in suits, they stood out from among the crowd of casually dressed revelers who welcomed them at the VIP section of the Cebu City Sports Center, along with other foreign guests from the United Kingdom, Korea, Belgium, Iceland and Malta, among others.

“This event is very moving. I’m impressed by their creativity and the kind of devotion that they have. They’re all very talented so I can imagine how much time they have put into their dance, even in making their dresses. It’s a very high-level exhibition,” de Mozota told Sun.Star Cebu.

Aside from the parade of dancing contingents, de Mozota, the French consul and three senior attaches from the embassy, also witnessed the solemn foot procession last Saturday, which they said the French should come to watch and participate in.

‘Visit Cebu’

He said he would encourage people in France to come to Cebu to watch the Sinulog next year.

“Definitely, it’s a reason for the French to come to Cebu especially because the Sinulog has two parts, this parade and the religious procession where you can really see the devotion of the people. It’s very moving and they should come to see it,” the ambassador said.

Politicians and local celebrities, some of whom opted to join the crowd in the streets, added glitter to the 12-hour celebration.

Senatorial candidate and party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo said he didn’t mind if people would misinterpret his visit as a form of early campaigning, but added that he came to Cebu to enjoy the festivities, as it was his first time to join.

Senators Loren Legarda and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. also attended the parade; Legarda was at the grandstand while Revilla walked along the parade route.

Bohol gubernatorial candidate Cesar Montano rode the Bayswater float.

Also spotted on board different floats were celebrities Richard Gutierrez, Heart Evangelista, Patrick Garcia, Rainier Castillo, Melissa Ricks, Matt Evans, Valerie Concepcion, Claudine Barretto and Derek Ramsay. Philip Salvador, John Estrada and Vina Morales opted to join the crowd in walking along the parade route.