I ENDED up going to the Cebu City Sports Center on Tuesday night instead of my usual afternoon jog at the oval because I had accompanied a friend to the south earlier in the day.
It was past dinner time, around 9 p.m., so I expected the facility to be empty, or at least with fewer runners, walkers and would-be athletes.
You know, those people who show up wearing trendy and expensive sportswear looking like professionals. The types who spend minutes on end stretching and then plop themselves on the outer lane taking selfies or chatting with friends and then taking groupfies.
But I was wrong.
Yes, it was dark. Management only turns on the big lights on special occasions like soccer tournaments that extend into the night or concerts. I also heard those bulbs are expensive and eat up a lot of electricity. So I guess it doesn’t want to waste taxpayers’ money on a few.
But the sight of many people on the oval not to mention the group of children practicing on a makeshift stage on the soccer pitch did surprise me.
As I made my way into the middle of the oval, I found out the children were participants of the upcoming Pasigarbo sa Sugbo, an event relaunched by the administration of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia after it was shelved by her predecessor.
The cultural event will be one of the highlights of the month-long celebration of Cebu Province’s founding anniversary.
The last time I heard, majority of the municipalities were participating in what was once dubbed the “Festival of Festivals,” which would explain why this contingent was practicing into the night with another contingent waiting in the wings. Contingents from the more than 40 towns can’t be together at the sports center all at the same time. They just won’t fit.
In the next hour or so, I couldn’t help but be pleased with what I observed.
First, the children looked like they were having fun. A little tired maybe, but when the choreographer, whom I couldn’t see because he was way up in the bleacher, started counting, they were all up to the task.
Maybe it helped that the choreographer was funny. He did not berate the stragglers. He joked with them instead. When he noticed that the pressure was getting to them, he coaxed them with promises that made them laugh.
Halfway into their practice, the choreographer announced the arrival of their mayor. I didn’t catch what town they were from so I didn’t know who he or she was. But you should have seen the children.
They stomped harder. They yelled louder. They moved quicker. As if the pride of their town was at stake.
And that’s what Pasigarbo sa Sugbo is all about, isn’t it?