THE Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) has assured spectators that there will be enough public transportation during the Sinulog Festival grand parade at the South Road Properties (SRP) on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.

In the Sinulog’s four-decade history, it is the first time the grand parade and ritual showdown featuring performances from local and out-of-town contingents will be held at the SRP, the Cebu City Government-owned reclamation area that is not currently served by regular public transportation such as jeepneys.

Four days before the festival, Cebu City also gave an update on Sunday’s participating contingents, parade route, and road closures.

In a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 11, lawyer Collin Rosell, secretary of Mayor Michael Rama, said 21 City Hall-owned buses will also be deployed on Jan. 15, to provide free transportation to individuals going to the venue.

The CCTO has received the assurance of eight transport cooperatives that will extend their routes to the SRP, but rides on these vehicles will not be free since the minimum fare will still apply.

The cooperatives will have a 100 percent deployment of their modern public utility vehicles (PUVs) in five routes starting 6 a.m. until all activities at the SRP end.

These are the special routes for the Sinulog grand parade: Anjo World Theme Park in Minglanilla going to SRP near Talisay City Fish Port; Talamban area to SRP; Parkmall to SRP; Tabunok, Talisay to Mambaling; and Marigondon-Cordova to SRP.

At the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Central Visayas (LTFRB 7), Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said they will use the final rerouting plan of the Cebu City Government as basis for the issuance of special permits for the Sinulog Festival 2023.

However, Montealto said that as of Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 11, the agency had not issued special permits for PUVs that can transport passengers to the SRP, as it had not received any applications for special permits from transport operators.

Councilor Joel Garganera announced that 10 electric vehicles operated by Global Electric Transport will also be deployed during the grand parade to provide free transportation to the SRP.

The pick-up point for the e-vehicles will be at the Plaza Independencia. Rides will start at 8 a.m.

During the last physical staging of the Sinulog in 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic, police estimated that about two million people gathered along the Sinulog grand parade route.

Road closure

CCTO board of directors chairman Rico Rey Francis “Koko” Holganza said the SRP will be closed to traffic starting at 1 a.m. Sunday.

He said vehicles coming from southern Cebu will not be allowed to pass through the SRP and should instead take Natalio Bacalso Avenue. However, F. Vestil Road will still be accessible to spectators bringing their vehicles.

Holganza said the City is still preparing the parking area near the Sinulog venue but spectators can also use the parking area of a mall in the SRP.

He discouraged spectators from using private vehicles to get to the SRP, urging them to use public transport instead to avoid inconvenience due to heavy traffic and the possibility of having difficulty in looking for available parking areas.

Despite the venue being the SRP, Holganza admitted that traffic congestion may still be experienced along the main highway due to the diversion of vehicle flow.

CCTO head Raquel Arce also said that at 1 p.m. of Jan. 15, portions of Osmeña Blvd. will also be closed to vehicles.

According to Arce, they anticipate that a huge number of people will still flock to the downtown area, especially when the activities at the SRP will be over.

The closure will begin at the Fuente Osmeña Circle going to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, but major intersections will still be open to vehicular traffic.

Arce further said all CCTO personnel, including those assigned for office duties, will be deployed on the field during the Sinulog to cover not only the SRP but also other areas of the city.

Parade route

Based on the parade route plan provided by the CCTO, the contingents will perform in a four-kilometer carousel route in the SRP.

The contingents will gather at the road near San Pedro Calungsod Chapel/Ocean Park, moving from there to the the main judging venue at the City di Mare, SRP grounds.

The plan also showed five judging stations along the route where the contingents will perform their street dance.

Only 23 contingents will join the grand parade after Barili town in western Cebu backed out last Jan. 7.

The contingents are Barangay Basak-San Nicolas, Mabini, San Nicolas, Tisa, San Roque, Tejero, Pardo, Inayawan, Guadalupe, Mabolo, Labangon and Binaliw, which are all from Cebu City.

The cities of Talisay, Toledo, Naga and Mandaue will join Carcar City in the grand parade. Carcar won the One Cebu Island Sinulog sa Kabataan held at the Cebu City Sports Center last Jan. 8.

The contingents from Socorro town in Surigao del Norte and La Castellana town in Negros Occidental will be the only out-of-town performers this year.

Two guest contingents—Carmen town in Cebu Province and the Hwacheon Beomangol Nongak Preservation Association of South Korea--will also perform on Sunday.

In the 2020 Sinulog, 31 contingents joined the dance competition. (PAC / LMY)