PREPARATIONS for the Sinulog 2020 have included discussions about the return of street parties as part of the celebration.
“Street parties? If regulated, I am for it, and we will do something to regulate it,” Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said in a SunStar Cebu report. Some of these regulations would include a liquor bar and limiting parties outside of the grand parade route.
The two bodies—Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) and Sinulog Governing Board (SGB)—are reportedly considering bringing back street parties after these were banned during the administration of mayor Tomas Osmeña.
SFI executive director Jojo Labella said the plan will still undergo a “thorough evaluation” by the City and the police force. The SGB, which is a new creation, wants to attract more visitors to next year’s celebration by allowing the parties. SGB executive director Barney Borja was quoted in the report as saying organizers want to bring back the crowds and visitors, and one way to do this is through concerts and street parties. The hotel industry, Borja said, reported a “not as robust” occupancy during the season compared to the past five years.
SunStar Cebu started a Facebook poll Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, on the plan on street parties during the Sinulog, and almost right away the comments started coming in with most of them saying it wasn’t a good idea and that the ban on parties was not why the tourists didn’t come. Hundreds of comments gave an overwhelming “No.”
Many said “Not a good idea” and that they want to keep the Sinulog a solemn religious celebration without “wild” street parties, illegal drugs and alcohol. Only a few said “Yes” to the parties.
Those who said “No” emphasized that the Sinulog is not about tourists or having fun on the streets or being “cool” kids. It’s about devotion to the Señor Sto. Niño. One said that if tourists didn’t come because we didn’t have street parties, then maybe they should be educated about what the Sinulog is and the reasons for the celebration.
The SFI and the SGB still have to categorically say if they will allow street parties. Until announced, it is still a plan; it is not final.
People responded to the poll based on what they knew happened in past revelries when street parties meant drinking alcohol on the streets, stampedes, cars being rocked sideways and leaving occupants shaken, fistfights, gun and knife attacks and runs to hospitals. Not nice images of a religious celebration or a city’s festival.
Organizers cannot ignore their sentiment. If organizers allow the return of street parties, they will have to share about preventive measures in addition to what didn’t work in the past and give assurances of orderly merrymaking. It might actually mean less work and better control if they just kept the ban.