Briones: Sinulog 2020

On The Go

IS it me or are there fewer foreigners on the streets partaking in Sinulog activities?

Don’t get me wrong. They are around, but their presence is not as ubiquitous unlike in the past when you could find them at every corner.

The grand parade was conceptualized to attract visitors with the hope that it would spur Cebu’s economic and tourism growth. It banked on the Cebuanos’ veneration of the Holy Child.

In a way, it has more than succeeded. Although not as big as the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Sinulog has put Cebu on the map.

So I’m flattering myself. But what can you expect? I’m a Cebuano writing about Cebu and a practice that borders on fanatical devotion. Humility will just have to take a backseat.

This year is important.

Organizers of the grand parade have to iron out all the kinks so that next year’s celebration will be perfect. Or almost perfect. Okay, so at least it will run smoothly without any hitches.

You see, 2021 will mark a milestone as Cebu and the rest of the country will celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the archipelago.

They call it “quincentennial” or “quincentenary.” Quite nifty words to describe the utter devastation of a native population’s system of beliefs and replacing it with a foreign and alien dogma. Come on, how else would you describe the friars’ conversion of the “Indios”?

So “utter devastation” might be an exaggeration. History told us that Cebu’s local rulers were not exactly forced to accept the word of Christ. They were enticed. I don’t know if the friars promised them a thousand virgins in paradise when they died, but it must have been an offer so hard to refuse.

Oh yes, Magellan said he would help subjugate the ruler across the channel if Rajah Humabon and company converted.

I mean, who was Humabon to ignore such a great opportunity? He was given a chance to finally be rid of that pest Lapulapu so he grabbed it. Of course, things didn’t turn out exactly as he planned, but sometimes nothing ever does in life.

Which might explain why the brand of Catholicism in the Philippines is unique—yeah, that’s the diplomatic description for it—and the faithful are so quick to believe in, well, “miracles.”

Anyway, this column is not about religion. It’s about how the non-religious aspect of the celebration has been tainted with controversy.

According to my sources, there has been a scramble and everyone wants to have a finger in the pie. I don’t know what they meant by that, but I guess they’re only following in the footsteps of Rajah Humabon.

There’s money to be made. Lots and lots, from what I heard. I guess you can say that they only want to take advantage of the situation. Grab the opportunity, so to speak. Why not, indeed!


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