THE Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) yesterday said it is 80 percent ready for the holding of this year’s Sinulog celebration.

This is what SFI Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros said after the final briefing with all the Sinulog committees yesterday.

In an interview, Ballesteros said they are only working now on the stage that will be used for the Sinulog grand parade on Jan. 19.

Ballesteros said this year’s stage will be all blue in the daylight so that it will look like the sky.

By night, the stage will look like the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.

Ballesteros said the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) will be deploying an estimated 1,200 policemen along the carousel route and the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

He said, though, that CCPO asked for more personnel from the Police Regional Office 7 as they are expecting an increase from last year’s four-million crowd estimate.

This, following the two disasters—the 7.2-magnitude earthquake last October and super typhoon Yolanda in November—that hit Visayas.

Ballesteros said that crowd control has always been a challenge for them in every Sinulog celebration.

But he said that they are optimistic that this year’s activities will be smooth and peaceful with the help of the police personnel.

Also, Ballesteros said that they are planning to disperse the crowd so that it will not be concentrated at the CCSC.

He said they will be organizing activities like concerts at the South Road Properties among others.

For the Sinulog sa Kabtaan sa Lalawigan and the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan this weekend, Ballesteros said everything is already in place.

He said, though, that there are fewer contingents this year.

For the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan, Ballesteros said there will only be nine participants—five from the elementary level and four in the secondary level.

Last year, there were 18 participants, nine in the elementary and nine in the secondary.

Ballesteros understands that there are fewer participants from the province considering that northern Cebu has been heavily affected by Yolanda.

Ballesteros said the contingent from Carcar City will no longer be joining the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan because they have decided to just join the grand parade.

In the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan, Ballesteros said there will only be 12 participants—seven from the elementary and five from the secondary. Last year, there were 18 contingents.

Those who will win the Sinulog sa Kabataan will automatically earn a slot in the grand parade.

Invitation

Mayor Michael Rama yesterday said he will be sending a letter to President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay to invite them to attend the grand parade.

Rama said it will be up to them if they will attend or not.

Also, Rama said he will be inviting Philippine Red Cross chairperson Richard Gordon as he has been coming to the city to help the Yolanda refugees.

He will also be inviting Sen. Peter Cayetano and Sen. Pia Cayetano, saying that they have given funds to the City Government for the rebuilding of a new Cebu City Medical Center.

Application

In a related development, a Sinulog application for smart phone users was launched yesterday by Innopub Media.

The application will guide local and foreign tourist alike on what to do and what are the activities during the Sinulog.

It also provide a listing on the hotels where they can stay in Cebu, who to call during emergencies and in case they need transportation, among others.

Financial help

Meanwhile, Tuburan Mayor Democrito Diamante is for asking financial assistance from the Capitol for the towns’ participation in the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan 2014.

Diamante was seen at the office of the governor yesterday to submit a resolution seeking financial assistance for the Tuburan National High School students who will serve as their contingent.

Last year, Tuburan won second place during the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan secondary level.

Diamante said an estimated P4 million is needed.

“Panaad pud na sa katawhan sa Tuburan nga kung naa lay budget moapil gyud mi’g (Tuburan vowed that if there is a budget, we will join) Sinulog,” Diamante said.

He said they have no more funds left from 2013 after the town was badly affected by super typhoon Yolanda.

Diamante said he used his personal money when they started the practice for their presentation.

The mayor hoped that Tuburan will win this time to give honor to their municipality while the town is slowly recovering from the devastation.

In a separate interview, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III pledged to help with the town’s expenses for the upcoming event.

“I pledged nga motabang ta (that we will help),” Davide said.

The governor did not mention how much the Capitol will donate to Tuburan.

Davide said Suroy-suroy buses are on standby so that these can be used to transport the contingents from the towns.

He said he already told the town about the buses.

Aside from the financial assistance, Tuburan also needs an ambulance, Davide said.