TWO sites were identified by the Sinulog organizers as possible venues where dancing contingents can perform, in case bad weather hits the city during the grand parade on Jan. 18.
During the final briefing of all the Sinulog committees yesterday, Sinulog overall chairman and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said the two alternative venues are the City Hall block in the South Road Properties and the Cebu Coliseum.
“This will be if worse comes to worst. The judging for the contingents will have to be transferred,” he said. He added the venue should accommodate at least 5,000 revelers.
The weather bureau does not have a weather forecast yet for next weekend, when the solemn procession and street-dancing parade take place. It said it expected cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms for the Visayas this weekend.
According to the mayor, the venue will only be transferred if public storm warning signal number one will be hoisted by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration in the city.
“Mag-depende gyud na tanan sa panahon (It all depends on the weather),” he said.
In recent years, the Sinulog parade, which usually lasts from 9 a.m. to around 7 p.m., has continued despite some showers.
For this year’s grand parade, Rama said he has invited President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay to grace the event.
The mayor said he invited them “out of respect” but wouldn’t be surprised if they attend events related to the visit of Pope Francis instead. The pontiff is visiting the country from Jan. 15 to 19.
During the final briefing yesterday, the mayor directed all the Sinulog committees to make the celebration “peaceful, orderly and successful.”
He asked for crowd control during the grand parade, security in the sports center where the contingents will perform, and discipline on the streets, among others.
As for the out-of-town dancing contingents, Rama said that organizers needed to make sure that the participants will be safe in their accommodations.
In an interview yesterday, Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Ricky Ballesteros said the organizers have requested the Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu City Division to set aside five schools to house the out-of-town contingents.
DepEd already allowed the use of the Mambaling Elementary School, Zapatera Elementary School, Labangon Elementary School, City Central School and Abellana National High School.
Ballesteros said they have also asked DepEd to accommodate the contingents as early as Jan. 12, Monday, instead of Wednesday.
“Some contingents are arriving early because of erratic weather conditions,” he said, adding that the participants want to avoid delays or trip postponements.
Since classes will be disrupted, he said the affected schools will just conduct make-up classes.
Cebu City has arranged for a mass at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño at 2 p.m. tomorrow and a launching parade from the Basilica to the Cebu City Sports Center at 3 p.m.