We all know why Gov. Gwen Garcia and the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu helped the town of Carmen in northern Cebu host a grander version this year of the Sinulog sa Carmen. They mainly were against the holding by Cebu City of the Sinulog at the South Road Properties or SRP without enough preparation that resulted in both the contingents and the revelers being fed to the heat and the “carmageddon” the event caused.
We hope that the Capitol and the cities have learned their lessons. It is not always advisable for independent-minded chief executives to ride on what can be considered through the years as a successful endeavor that they did not originate. Conflicts with the event’s organizer were bound to ensue, and you could not do anything much about these. You will always be at the mercy of the organizers.
The Sinulog sa Carmen has become a tradition like the Sinulog in Cebu City. Since its holding in 1974, it has offered something to people in northern Cebu who could not witness the festivities for the Child Jesus in Cebu City. Former Carmen parish priest Jose Motus apparently saw this opportunity to draw the crowd to the town: hold his version of the Kalibo, Aklan ati-atihan in his parish.
Both the Sinulog and the Ati-atihan pay homage to the Sto. Niño, but that did not deter Motus and the townsfolk. Their patron is St. Augustine of Hippo, true, yet they must have felt that there was nothing wrong to pay their respects to the Sto. Niño. Even the saint himself would have paid his respects to the God-Child, too. A year later, they named their event the “Sinulog sa Carmen.”
I admire the persistence of the Carmen people. They did things under the radar and were eventually eclipsed by the Sinulog festivities that David Odilao, the former director of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, initiated in response to the call of then president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. for regions to organize festivities of their own. But despite being largely unrecognized, the townsfolk persisted and the event has turned golden.
It is now the apt time for such persistence to be given its due. The Capitol should adopt it and give the celebration the needed funding to make it a spectacle. Note that tourist spots now dot the northern portion of the island. Many tourists have gone there mainly for the beaches. An event like the Sinulog sa Carmen can be a tourism magnet. Holding it the Sunday after the Fiesta Señor in Cebu City is not a problem; rather it would be a booster in a number of ways. Visitors, local and foreign, for example, can already put that in their calendar: a side trip to Carmen. Having tourist accommodations full would be a dream come true for northern tourist spots. And the publicity would be free, both in the traditional and social media.
Plus there is, of course, the added boost of having the governor’s daughter as the country’s tourism secretary.
January 23, 2023
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