Twice after the Sinulog, we went to the South Road Properties in Cebu City to see the controversial venue of the commercial/cultural side of the celebration honoring the Sto. Niño. We missed on our first try, which we did in the evening. We had better luck the following afternoon.

Mayor Michael Rama’s insistence in keeping the SRP as site of this year’s Sinulog, ignoring warnings that it was a disaster begging to happen, turned out to be a charmed one. On the Sunday of street dancing, the rains stopped and the sun smiled, okay, glared. No one slipped and wallowed in the mud, and not a single participant got hurt, owing to the condition of the hastily built stage, as many had feared.

All’s well that ends well? Not so fast. Rama’s boys beat the deadline in preparing the venue but barely. How far can the mayor push his luck?

I ask that question because I just read that the City wants to host the Palarong Pambansa next year and that Rama plans to have some of the events held at the SRP. “There are available places in SRP,” he said.

True, and we have to thank former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña for that. Without his vision and negotiating skills, the area where many commercial buildings now stand would have remained under seawater until now.

While a huge chunk of the SRP has been sold to investors, there remain vast areas that are owned and controlled by the City which we could use for the Palaro. But raw land will not suffice, the City will have to develop these sites or encourage current locators to do it for them.

The Palaro is the biggest amateur sporting event in the country, gathering thousands of competitors and their coaches and trainers. The last time we hosted it was 30 years ago, and most of the events were held at the Cebu City Sports Center that was built also at the instance of Osmeña.

The CCSC will remain the “nerve center” of the 2024 Games and will be upgraded, according to Rama. Interestingly, the CCSC, also known as Abellana, was where many past Sinulogs were held and was the venue preferred by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia for last month’s edition. She could not persuade Rama to change his mind, however.

Preparing the venue for the Palaro is more complicated than doing it for the Sinulog. You do not just build a stage, asphalt the surrounding areas and set up a tent for spectators. If we’re serious about holding some of the events at the SRP, we should already start planning so that by the time the hosting is awarded to us, we’re ready to fly.

The Sinulog’s success did not hide the fact that preparing for it was done haphazardly. We cannot commit the same mistake with the Palaro.