It was either we have the Sinulog performances or not at all. No middle ground or halfway mark, says the agency in charge of controlling the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
But it wasn’t as black and white to the Cebu City and Sinulog leadership who wanted a midway to having a celebration while ensuring public safety.
No, said the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases 7 when it recommended no Sinulog performances. That meant no gathering of dancers, whether during practice, live in a grand venue or for a recorded performance in a barangay hall.
For the task force, it wasn’t enough that the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) and the technical working committee of the Cebu City Government canceled the grand showdown and street dancing competition at the South Road Properties (SRP) scheduled for Jan. 17, 2021. Under the SFI plan, the performances will still be held in barangays of participating contingents, with their barangay performances recorded in video and posted on the Sinulog website at Sinulog.ph and on Facebook.
Many lauded on social media the decision of the SFI and City Hall, saying it showed Mayor Edgardo Labella was concerned for the welfare of Cebuanos. But, as the RIATF noted, the performances would continue albeit without fanfare and a large and live audience at the SRP. The performances will still be held in barangays with dancers spending time together in practice, costume fitting and showtime. That is where danger lurks.
The RIATF didn’t want that compromise or halfway mark. It’s like saying there’s no Sinulog dancing but yes there is Sinulog dancing. If the point is to still have Sinulog dancing despite all the canceled activities, the RIATF suggested the airing of videos of past winning performances. You can then ensure no transmission of the virus. There can be no middle ground or halfway mark when it comes to the risk of infection.
Look at the suspension of the holding of the Traslacion, the highlight of the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila last week. Organizers did not seek a middle ground; they canceled the traditional Traslacion or the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene held at dawn of Jan. 9 of each year. Instead, more masses were held for devotees at the Quiapo church.
Since last Dec. 30, a small replica of the image of the Black Nazarene was brought to several places in Manila and neighboring dioceses. This “localization” of the celebration prevented huge gatherings as only small groups were allowed inside churches visited by the replica. The motorcades were limited to authorized vehicles, no joiners.
The Sinulog and City officials will have no other option but to abide by the RIATF position as public health and safety should be the paramount concern.