ABOUT two million people showed up along the Sinulog grand parade route to watch 31 contingents inch their way to the Cebu City Sports Center to perform in front of paying spectators on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020.
The number is quite staggering, really, considering that the province’s population hovers around three million, according to the 2015 census. But when you compare that to the crowd estimate of 3.5 million that attended the grand parade the year before, then it’s sort of a letdown.
After all, 1.5 million is 1.5 million.
That’s a lot of Red Horse and Emperadors that could have been drunk. That’s a lot of hotel rooms that remained empty. I don’t have the figures yet, but I guess you could say that business was not as brisk compared to past celebrations. Obviously.
It’s simple mathematics. So simple, in fact, I’ll let you do the calculation.
Anyway, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Valeriano de Leon partly based his estimate on an aerial survey he conducted on board a chopper of the PNP Special Action Force at 3 p.m.
But, hey, I didn’t need to hop on a helicopter to come up with the same observation. I roamed the streets with a friend, filmmaker Ruel Dahis Antipuesto, before work to shoot some vignettes.
The first thing we noticed was that we could move with ease. And that meant not having to press our bodies against strangers to get from Point A to Point B. Which was quite a pleasant surprise. I’ve been crossing the carousel route for more than 15 years since the office convinced me to switch dayoffs and, trust me, it was a dreadful experience. Every time.
But there was none of that last Sunday. We even found ourselves walking alongside contingents or walking past them; dancers, propsmen, musicians huddled in whatever shade they could find when and where the parade stopped, which it did, intermittently.
Overall, I had fun. I didn’t even mind that there was no cell phone signal. It might have devastated some millennials but it was nice to be disconnected even for only a few hours.
So I guess the big question is, was it a success?
Of course, it was.
I mean, it was no simple feat trying to keep two million people safe. And, by the way, two million people is still a lot of people.
The police should be commended that only petty crimes were reported. And not that many from what I gathered. And let me point out that they exercised maximum tolerance, so despite their presence, they didn’t spoil the party.
And that was what last Sunday was about, wasn’t it? A giant party in honor of the Holy Child.