ALL is set for the Sinulog sa Carmen this Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023 with Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco expected to attend at the Carmen Grandstand, and out-of-town contingents bringing their own provisions including medical and security teams to secure their participation in the event to be held 42 kilometers from Cebu City.

Frasco is currently in Cebu as she joined the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo Northern Escapade, a tourism event promoting several spots in the province of Cebu last Jan. 17 to 19.

“Yes, DOT (Department of Tourism) Secretary Frasco is expected to attend... That’s why we are praying to Sr. Sto. Niño for good weather,” Carmen Mayor Carlo Villamor said on Thursday, Jan. 19.

Villamor said as they celebrate the town’s 50th Sinulog sa Carmen this year, they are praying for booming tourism in Carmen.

Aside from the Sinulog, Carmen boasts of tourism spots like the Cebu Safari and Adventure Park, Mangitngit Falls and Middle Earth Mountain Resort, Lapus-Lapus cave, Carmen Bay and its municipal plaza.

The Sinulog sa Carmen on Sunday will start with a mass at the San Agustin Church at 10 a.m., followed by the street dancing at 1 p.m., then ritual showdown of local contingents, and open category ritual showdown at 6 p.m.

The open category will feature contingents from outside the town.

Villamor said the event is expected to end at 10 p.m., but if there are adjustments, it may be extended.

Out-of-town performers

The Sinulog sa Carmen will feature 27 contingents, of which 15 are from outside Carmen. Of the 15, eight contingents will compete in the Sinulog-based category, and seven in the Free Interpretation category.

The 15 out-of-town contingents comprise the 10 contingents that withdrew from last Sunday’s One Cebu Island Sinulog 2023 staged by the Cebu City Government at the South Road Properties (SRP), as well as five contingents from Cebu City.

Days before the Jan. 15 event, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia withdrew the participation of all the eight contingents from Cebu Province on concerns over the preparedness of the SRP as the site for the Sinulog grand parade and ritual showdown.

These were the contingents of Carmen, Carcar City, Moalboal, Naga City, Talisay City, Tuburan, Toledo City, and the Consolacion guest contingent with which the governor had been slated to dance.

The highly urbanized cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu also pulled out of the event for the same reason.

Three days before the big event, asphalting had not yet been completed at the site to cover the muddy grounds. Enough lights, functional toilet facilities, and seating for the anticipated 9,000 spectators were also not yet evident then.

Garcia also cited traffic on Natalio Bacalso Ave., with the SRP’s closing on the day of the event, and security concerns for her call not to hold the event at the SRP, which call Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama did not heed.

Cebu City

The Cebu City contingents that will join are those from Barangays Mabolo, Tejero, Labangon, Tisa and Basak San Nicolas.

Rama has offered his full support for the barangays’ participation in the Carmen Sinulog despite the withdrawal of 10 contingents, including the Carmen contingent, from the Cebu City-organized Sinulog last Jan. 15--even approving the request of the Capitol to borrow 400 portable baths from the city government to be used at the Sinulog sa Carmen.

Barangay Basak San Nicolas Captain Norman Navarro confirmed on Friday that the Tribu Lumad Basakanon would participate in the Sinulog sa Carmen as it had always done in the past years.

“We join every year. We have been there for more than 10 years. And this will also be our thanksgiving for the results of the Sinulog (in Cebu City),” Navarro said in Cebuano.

Lumad Basakanon competed in the Free Interpretation Category, where it placed second in both the Ritual Showdown and Street Dancing, aside from being adjudged Best in Musicality,

Navarro said the Tribu Lumad Basakanon dancers are preparing for adjustments, especially in terms of time.

According to Navarro, they have to adjust because in the guidelines for the Sinulog in Cebu City, the time starts on the first step or first move of the dancer. In the Sinulog sa Carmen, the timer starts once the music starts.

However, Navarro said they are also ready to retain their original performance depending on the guidelines.

The Lumad Basakanon contingent will travel to Carmen on Saturday using five buses from the Cebu City Government.

The drive to the northern town of Carmen will take almost two hours.

The Province of Cebu has also extended its support in the form of an P800,000 subsidy which, according to Navarro, is “more than enough.”

Navarro also said that whatever the result on Sunday, they would give their all as a “halad” (offering) to the Sto. Niño.

Police escort

A total of 28 Cebu City policemen will escort the city’s contingents on their way to Carmen on Saturday and back to Cebu City after the event.

Lt. Col. Janette Rafter, deputy city director for operation of the Cebu City Police Office, said the deployment of police officers was made on the request of Mayor Rama.

The police will also escort the contingents in the billeting area and parade route.

Some of the policemen will be assigned at the billeting area as the dancers will go to the grandstand to practice, while others will be deployed along the parade route to escort the dancers during the Sinulog festival.

Mobile kitchen

The Mandaue City Government’s contingent left for Carmen, which is more than an hour’s drive from Mandaue, on Friday.

Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes said the City sent its mobile kitchen to ensure that the members of its contingent would have food to eat.

“We are giving full support to our Mandaue City Sinulog contingent that is now in the town of Carmen for the Sinulog sa Carmen,” Cortes said in a Cebuano post on Facebook Friday.

The City Government also sent policemen to provide security for the performers, and a medical team to attend to them if needed.

Public transport

On Friday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB 7) said it is still awaiting applications for special permits for public utility vehicles (PUV) that will be used to ferry tourists to and from Carmen town for the Sinulog sa Carmen celebration.

LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. told SunStar Cebu that special permits apply to PUVs that ferry passengers outside of their authorized and usual routes.

“We are waiting for their applications,” Montealto said.

He said tourist buses, by nature of their operation, are authorized to ferry passengers and tourists in and out of northern Cebu.

Weather

Cebu can expect fair weather over the weekend, auguring well for the Sinulog sa Carmen.

Engineer Al Quiblat, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas, said Cebu will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies, mostly sunny, with a 40 percent probability of isolated rain showers in the afternoon and evening due to localized thunderstorms.

The temperature range may hit 25 to 31 degrees Celsius with a heat index of 37 degrees Celsius, he told SunStar Cebu on Friday.

Carmen Mayor Villamor expects a doubling or tripling in the number of people who will participate in the celebration at the town’s Grandstand since this is also the town’s 50th celebration. Viewing is free for all.

To prevent crowding in the area, light emitting diode (LED) walls will be installed in the market and in front of the municipal hall so people can watch the event on screen. (LMY, MKG, EHP, AYB / TPT, Eiver Ky Villegas, USJ-R intern)