AT LEAST 15 contingents so far are expected to join the Sinulog Festival 2023, which will be held for the first time at the South Road Properties (SRP).

After taking a two-year break because of the Covid-19 pandemic, contingents are now eyeing a comeback in the country’s grandest festival, said Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Elmer “Jojo” Labella, who also gave an update on the parade route and other activities of the festival.

Labella told SunStar Cebu on Monday, November 14, 2022, that 15 contingents had signed up so far.These groups come from other local government units, so the number is expected to increase once Cebu City-based contingents register, he said.

The deadline for the registration of contingents is December 10.

Labella also said two groups from other countries have expressed interest to join the Sinulog as guest performers.

“Dako og probability nga daghan since two years nga walay Sinulog, especially those gusto unta mo-join in the previous years. Duna may mga gusto gyud mo-come back, katong mga previous winners,” said Labella.

(There’s a big possibility that there will be many contingents since there has been no Sinulog for two years, especially those that wanted to join in the previous years. There are some that really want to come back, like the previous winners.)

Labella also gave an update on the contests that will make a comeback in 2023, the new activity that will feature hotels and other business establishments, as well as the budget and construction already being undertaken at the SRP ahead of the festival.

Since the venue will not be the usual Cebu City Sports Center, Labella said they are starting to install bleachers for spectators at the SRP.

The venue for the grand ritual showdown will be the same place where then-presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. held his grand rally earlier this year, he said.

The organizers are also starting to install bleachers in the performance area and, according to Labella, the initial design can accommodate 5,000 spectators but they will be doing changes for the venue to accommodate up to 9,000 people.

Labella also shared that the stage is about 400 square meters in size and will not be made of scaffoldings but will be constructed sturdily by using concrete and other filling materials to ensure the safety of the performers.

The street dancing on the day of the Sinulog will begin near the Pedro Calungsod Chapel and will take a carousel route in the SRP.

Aside from the ritual showdown and street dancing, the higante and puppeteer contest will also make a comeback together with the float competition, photo contest, and short film making competition.

In recent interviews, Mayor Michael Rama said a “world tent city” will also be installed in the SRP that will allow businesses to showcase their products and services during the festivities.

Labella said they are still finalizing the details of the tent city together with the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu.

“There will be tents sa mga business establishments for their products. Maybe magbutang sad og mga food concessionaires,” he said.

Labella added that the area for the tent city will most likely be near the Il Corso Mall.

With regard to the prizes of the different competitions during the festival, Labella said he cannot disclose the amount right now but assured that there are enough funds for them since this is a City Government-sponsored event.

Compared to the budget in previous Sinulog festivals, Labella said next year’s budget is higher since there is a need to build additional infrastructure in SRP like the stage and audience area.

“This is totally a different venue. Dili na (It will no longer be) like the usual so dako-dako ang (there is quite a big) infrastructure or engineering challenge,” Labella said.

He further said that the staging of the Sinulog Festival in the SRP is final unless there will be another directive coming from the mayor.

Labella believes that having the festivities in the SRP will bring opportunities to the area and help develop its potential to attract more investors to the city.