FOR nearly two hours last night, around 20,000 revelers in the Cebu City Sports Center were treated to live performances of Cebuano artists and a 20-minute fireworks display that capped the Sinulog celebration.

Around 600 performers brought the audience back to the old Cebu, showing dances and innovations from the different periods, from the Spanish era to the American period and to Cebu at present.

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Led by Cebu City first lady Margot Osmeña, they also showed the 30-year history of the Sinulog and how it evolved to become the festival that we know today.

The finale that featured Cebuana singers Dulce and Pilita Corales, as well as the life-sized structures of Cebu City’s landmarks, cost organizers P2.5 million to stage.

“There were minor lapses but overall, I think everybody did a good job in paying attention to the tiniest detail,” said Sinulog Foundation Inc. executive director Ricky Ballesteros.

Margot said she opted not to join the Cebu City contingent so she could focus on her dance numbers during the finale, which she said were her offering to the Sto. Niño.

While the production number projected her as the “Carnival queen,” she said it should not be taken seriously because her performance was all about giving thanks to the patron, especially after Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s recovery from cancer.

“Don’t take the title seriously. It’s a tradition that we used to have and I did it as an offering. It’s all about the Sto. Niño because there is just so much to be thankful for. We’re grateful to be here because last year we were not around,” Margot said.

The Osmeñas missed last year’s festivities since they had to be in the US while the mayor was seeking treatment.

Dressed in a long-sleeved black gown embellished with crystals and sequins, she danced the Rigodon de honor with Cebu’s socialites. The declaration of the Carnival Queen was considered the most awaited social event during the American period.

She also danced the Sinulog with her own image of the Sto. Niño, which she said has been her “partner” since 1992.

This Sinulog, she said, is extra special for her since it will be her last performance as first lady.

Concerned that Margot’s performance as “queen” would be criticized, Tomas said the host did not have to mention her name several times.

“This is not a dance competition, she just blends in with the entire setting and she’s just being told what to do. I mean she’s not trying to stand out there. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even have to mention her name. She’s just happy to be a part of this because there are so many things to be grateful for. We should not use this parade to project a personality, it can just trigger a lot of resentment,” the mayor said.

The finale started with a video documentary on the history of the Sinulog and segued into Cebu’s rich culture and heritage.

It showed the influence of the Spaniards and the Americans in Cebu, using elaborate props like the tartanillas during the Spanish period and the trains set up in Cebu during the American era.

A 37-piece orchestra, a rondalla and drum beaters provided the background music to the performance.

The parade ended with a 10-minute fireworks display, sponsored by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.