IT’S one love for all Cebuanos in different cities, municipalities and time zones! On Jan. 6, Balik Cebu reopened its booth inside Ayala Center Cebu for the first time in two years. This means that returnees and tourists will get to enjoy a “full balikbayan experience” to celebrate Cebu during its Sinulog festivities.

Cebu has consistently ranked among the top destinations for travel, particularly in January when the Sinulog festival steals the show with its ornately huge religious and cultural celebrations, drawing attention from tourists from all over the world.

The Balik Cebu program exists for this reason, so tourists coming from different parts of the world would not miss out on anything. Aside from its different services, the program also organizes chartered flights to persuade Filipinos to fly home for the Sinulog holiday, and helps book tour packages through the Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations specialists.

“This is a happy time. It’s a time to celebrate after two years of anxiety and uncertainty due to the pandemic. For the last 42 years, the Sinulog festival has signaled the start of the year for us here in Cebu with merry-making, dances, drum beats, and the arrival of overseas Cebuanos longing for home,” said Tetta Baad, Balik Cebu committee chairperson, said during the relaunching event.

Through the Cebu City Tourism Commission, the Cebu City government is hopeful to invite a lot of balikbayans to be part of the Sinulog’s most awaited return this year 2023. If there’s one thing that makes Sinulog even merrier, it’s when all of the Cebuanos are present to witness their rich heritage and share it to the foreign tourists.

“Thanks to our partners, Ayala Center Cebu, Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), the Department of Tourism (DOT), GMR Megawide, the Cebu City Tourism Commission, this project is alive and kicking,” Baad said.

The committee has packed festive activities for the returnees to experience during the Sinulog celebrations. The instant the balikbayans enter the MCIAA, they are met with a grand welcome and a lavish buffet.

“We have already reserved 100 tickets for those still arriving. In fact, we are going to hold a symbolic airport reception in the morning of Jan. 12 with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama,” said Baad.

The free dinner will be held at The Terraces in Ayala Center Cebu on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m.

In addition, the booth at Ayala Center Cebu can function as an information hub for all activities connected to Sinulog. For a better understanding of their perks, these balikbayans are welcome to stop by the booth and present their passports.

It’s safe to say that the red carpet is all rolled out this coming Jan. 12, and Cebuanos can be reunited once again to witness all together the breathtaking beauty of the Sinulog celebrations.

In a separate statement, Mayor Rama thanked the Balik Cebu committee members for all of their efforts in promoting Cebu as a tourist destination and a loving home for Filipino balikbayans.

“We are back. Balik Cebu is back and with vibrancy and dynamism.”

“This is a celebration and this is thanksgiving. We cannot say more but thank God, we are back,” said Rama.

Among those present during the launch were former DOT 7 Director Patricia Aurora Roa, Cebu City Liaison Officer for Worldwide Balikbayans Cinbeth Orellano, City Councilor and chairperson of the tourism committee Joy Pesquera, and MCIAA general manager Julius Neri Jr.