ALTHOUGH disappointed, Lumad Basakanon respect the judges’ decision but they raised questions on whether the criteria for judging had been followed.

Basak San Nicolas Barangay Captain George Rama, head of the contingent, and choreographer Norman Navarro expected to win the top prize in the free interpretation category of the Sinulog Grand Parade last Sunday, especially because of the resounding applause they got from the crowd.

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But their contingent’s prayer dance depicting the conversion of the pagans into Christians landed only earned them second place.

Rama said they spent close to P1 million to put together the brand new costumes and new dance steps, which took four months to practice.

Also, the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) officials are now investigating the alleged sale of two VIP tickets that were assigned to the brother of Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama during last Sunday’s Sinulog Grand Parade.

A policeman turned over to the SFI the person who allegedly sold the tickets outside the Cebu City Sports Center.

Around 300 VIP passes were given to city officials and their guests so they could enter the VIP section of the grandstand. The tickets were not for sale.

SFI executive director Ricky Ballesteros said that tickets were authentic and had the control number of the tickets given to Sammy Rama. These were enclosed in an envelope bearing his name.

“We want to find out how the tickets reached the person who sold them, that’s why we are investigating it,” he said yesterday.

For his part, Rama said the tickets were intended for a VIP, but not for his brother Sammy who had another VIP pass.

He said the person who sold the tickets and the one who bought them should be made to explain.

In a separate interview yesterday, Mayor Tomas Osmeña suggested using special stamps for tickets so that fake copies cannot be reprinted.

Some fake tickets reportedly circulated last Sunday, including tickets intended for the media.

“I didn’t receive any report that there were fake tickets but if there were, those responsible should be prosecuted if there is evidence,” the mayor said.

Yesterday, the choreographers and dancers of Lumad Basakanon did not let the results dampen their spirit, as the crowd continued to cheer them on during their repeat performance at the awarding ceremony.

“Nag-expect gyud mi sa first prize pero sige na lang kay nakita gyud namo nga pinangga mi sa mga tawo. Nalipay gyud mi sa reception sa crowd, labi na nga daghan ang nag-ingon nga para nila kami gyud ang nakadaog (At least we know the crowd loved us. Many people say we deserved the top prize),” Navarro said.

He lamented that the judges seemed to have focused more on the props, which made up only 15 percent of the criteria, rather than the choreography and concept, which was 30 percent.

Navarro said they practiced harder for last Sunday’s parade because they wanted to perfect the new steps and to make sure their 110 dancers execute the steps with precision.

“Mao bitaw nahibung ko nganong second place lang. Naunsa na man ni ang Sinulog nga murag nawala na man ang criteria. Murag props na man lang ang focus and murag nawala na ang choreography ug performance,” he said.

Rama speculated that out-of-town contingents were made to win to encourage them to attend the next year’s parade, especially after the number of out-of-town guests dwindled this year.

He also said he learned that the judges did not find anything new in their dance, which puzzled him because all their steps and costumes were new.

Rama said, though, that he will respect the decision of the judges, who are all experts in the field of dance.

Even if they lost, Lumad Basakanon will compete again next year, saying that their offering to the Sto. Niño is more important than a victory, he said.

Last year, Lumad Basakanon also landed in second place, next to Tribu Buyoganon from Abuyog, Leyte.

Last Sunday, they lost to the contingent from Placer in Masbate. (LCR)