It’s no secret. It has been a pretty, dramatic Sinulog 2023. The religious aspects of the festival have—generally speaking—gone on without a hitch from the processions to the masses. The entertainment side, however, like the parade, pocket events and music festivals, have all taken some hits, no thanks to bad weather and questionable preparation.
Metro Cebu is no stranger to holding massively successful events that compete on an international scale. It would not be surprising if this year’s batch of producers and organizers have had to shake a little bit of rust off after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic and Typhoon Odette.
It is unfortunate that Cebuanos had to bear the brunt of experiencing the lows of these post-pandemic Sinulog events. However, locals can also be hopeful that these are mere birth pangs of a better string of Sinulog festivals to come.
After what we’ve seen and heard, here are five ways Sinulog festivals and events can do better for 2024:
Competitive ticket pricing
It takes someone from Cebu to understand the balancing act of pricing tickets and selling enough of them to get an enormous crowd flocking to the venue. Cebuanos are very “cost-conscious.” It’s not that Cebuanos aren’t willing to pay up, they just need to see if the benefits greatly outweigh the cost. Slightly stubborn but loyal to a fault.
One time, big time
While it’s commendable to think of hosting a multi-day event, Metro Cebu might not be ready for this yet. While it is one of the major players in the country’s economy, the metropolis still remains very community-oriented. Take it from the island of Siargao, where local bars and restaurants agree among themselves on which one would host a party on which day of the week. This effectively funnels the same party crowd to a new location daily. A massive, one-day event would be more ideal, and Cebuanos certainly wouldn’t mind dropping by all festivals or events one night after the other during Sinulog week.
This is perhaps one of the most essential keys to a successful event. Borrowing from an age-old cliche in real estate: Location, location, location. The grander the event, the harder it is to find a suitable venue. It’s very important for event organizers to get on the good side of local government, too and start working on their event at least eight to 10 months in advance. Outdoor events should make sure their venue is, at the very least, capable of hosting thousands of people safely. Indoor events should ensure that they are able to limit the people to a safe capacity.
Work with Cebu-based teams
Granted that there is an unlimited pool of talent outside Cebu, when it comes to organizing events, there are nuances that only Cebuanos know how to handle. At the very least, organizers should listen to local consultants to learn better on how to navigate through the Sinulog craze. This covers a ton of bases including but not limited to commuter habits, traffic peak times, dining preferences etc.
Highlight local acts
It’s 2023. While it is no secret that acts from outside Cebu sell the most tickets, it would be healthy for organizers to take on a fresh mindset of highlighting local artists instead of utilizing them as fillers or openers. This goes more than just mere set times. When treated right, even a local band that plays first in the afternoon can be a highlight in itself. It’s been done before. It can definitely be done again.
Sinulog 2023 was one for the books. It marked the first time the parade was moved to the South Road Properties, bringing with it a lot of learning opportunities. With careful planning and better execution this time around, it’s looking brighter for Cebu.
At the end of the day, all of these festivals and events celebrate the Cebuanos’ faith and devotion toward the Señor Sto. Niño. Pit Senyor!
January 17, 2023
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