Briones: Security over party in this year’s Sinulog

I WONDER what it’s going to be like today.

Different it will be, that I can be sure of.

In the past two decades, the celebration of Fiesta Señor had focused on the Sinulog Grand Parade.

To most, that meant “party” with a capital “P.”

Revelers would take to the streets on the night before and on the night during Sinulog, which takes place every third Sunday of January.

The whole city would reverberate with the familiar beats of “two-steps-forward, one-step-backward.”

A few years back, several people were hurt when a stampede broke out on Gen. Maxilom Ave.

Establishments and houses along or near the parade route complained about the noise and the garbage generated by party-goers, some of whom displayed utter disregard for property as they left destruction in their wake.

All in the name of the Sto. Niño.

Authorities placed crowd estimates at between one and two million. I continue to doubt the figures since I think these may be bloated, but it’s hard to ignore the mass of humanity that seems to come out of the woodwork during this period. And they’re all concentrated in a few square kilometers.

Four years ago, I remember trying to cross Osmeña Blvd. on my way to my grandmother’s house on Urgello St. after work. I had to jostle my way through the throng just to cross the street. In the midst of it all, a morbid thought crossed my mind.

What if someone stupid made a wisecrack that caused a panic? What if someone had lit a firecracker that resulted in pandemonium?

My fears were not allayed until I made it to the other side. Even then, I rushed to make my way down Uytengsu Road. The mass of humanity to my right and the imposing bleachers to my left had left me claustrophobic.

Maybe this year, it’ll be different.

After all, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has imposed a liquor ban and prohibited street parties. Albeit, these only apply to establishments located 300 meters from the parade route on either side.

Still, the mayor’s executive order may seem harsh to many, making teetotalers out of revelers. But I have faith in Filipino ingenuity. Trust me, ways will be found to circumvent this, ahem, minor inconvenience.

Not that I’m condoning the actions of would-be violators. I’m just being pragmatic about the whole thing.

I for one support Osmeña in wanting to tone down the event, which, over the years, seems to have gotten out of hand.

Those who thought I was criticizing the mayor when I compared him to the Grinch who stole Christmas didn’t read my column in its entirety. Although I have to admit, there is a slight resemblance.

I accept the scale back because I have considered the risks involved.

Security has been, is and will be a logistics nightmare for authorities tasked to ensure the well-being of participants, be they devotees or just party animals.

On that note, have a safe Sinulog everyone.

Pit Señor!
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