Malilong: Look at the tradition, not the peso sign

The Other Side

THE Sinulog (the festival, not the religious practice) will be 40 years old on Sunday.

Although he is rarely mentioned, if at all, in conversations on the Sinulog, credit should go to David Odilao Jr. for conceptualizing and organizing it. Odilao started small because he had no budgetary assistance from Cebu City or any local government. But he had friends. He convinced school owners to field contingents and cajoled the media into giving his brainchild generous coverage.

Many things have changed since the Sinulog’s first staging. From the four or five university dance troupes that Odilao managed to gather, participation grew into double figures as contingents arrived from all over the Visayas and Mindanao. From kibitzer, the City Government has turned funder and eventually organizer. From the hundreds of students who were required to attend in order to pass P.E., hundreds of thousands of spectators now line the streets to watch the grand parade.

And--and this is the sad part--instead of being begged to cover the festival as Odilao did with them in the festival’s early editions, media are now required to pay big money for the right to video the Sinulog for the benefit of those who could not go to the Cebu City Sports Center for one reason or another.

The Sinulog Foundation needs money to run the show (for show it is), no buts and ifs about it. There are prizes to pay and salaries and wages, electric bills, rentals and other expenses to take care of.

Where will they get the funds? The proceeds from entrance fees are negligible; many of those who occupy the grandstand are VIPs, quasi-VIPs and plain freeloaders. So count that source out.

Not the registration fees, however, because the amount that the Sinulog Foundation charges participants in the grand parade is not pittance. A float, for example, is charged P45,000 without exception. The Young Lawyers Association of Cebu (YLAC), for example, tried to secure an exemption, which they enjoyed in previous years, but SFI said no. Today, my friend, C.T. Bacus is coming to my office to rob me of P5,000 as my contribution to the registration fee.

If there are 10 floats participating, that means an income of P450,000 for SFI. Add to that the contributions from sponsors, which must be substantial. Do you know that even the selling of food inside the CCSC is exclusive to a particular sponsor?

But the biggest chunk comes from contributions by the Province and the City. Gov. Gwen Garcia announced that they are releasing P8 million to SFI. How much is the city giving, P20 million?

The point is that the SFI does not need to sell the TV coverage of the Sinulog to cover its expenses. I do not blame MyTV for buying. The SFI presented a business opportunity; MyTV took it.

It is irrelevant that MyTV, GMA and ABS-CBN have agreed on a video-sharing scheme. The issue is not who bought the right to cover the Sinulog or who is going to benefit from it. Rather, it is why SFI has to sell it, in the first place. The Sinulog is about custom, heritage and tradition. The SFI should look at it that way and not at peso signs.


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