IT is beyond doubt that the celebration of the Feast of the Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu is such a world-class event it has given the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (draws 2 million) or the Mardi Gras in New Orleans (1.2 million) stiff competition. Drawing 1.4 million people, according to the police estimate, the 2018 Sinulog Grand Parade had 30 contingents that competed for attention and prizes.
Both the Rio Carnival and the New Orleans Mardi Gras are known for music, dances, floats and booze. Rio has become sleazy with nearly-naked dancers gyrating to the samba beat, while New Orleans was dealt a blow last year when a pickup truck driven by a drunk man plowed into a crowd, injuring 28 people.
There was a time when the Sinulog leaned toward the commercial and less conservative direction; but thanks to the smooth relations between the Sinulog Foundation and the clergy, the event has maintained its religiosity.
With Cebu City becoming more congested, the challenges of the organizers have increased. Among these are: crowd control, criminality, drunkenness and rowdy behavior, and traffic. The local government and the police have so far maintained control of the situation shown with the minimal incidents reported.
The biggest draw of the festivities is the Sinulog Grand Parade where the contingents, both local and out-of-town, have raised the quality of their presentations. The costumes, the choreography, the music, the backdrops and the passion of the participants not only dazzle the eyes, but give euphoric experience to audiences viewing either in the sports center or on television. Even people from overseas, like me, find delight in the live coverage, if not replays. With the high cost in putting up a contingent, it has been reported that fewer out-of-towners have participated and surely, the organizers must be addressing this issue.
If there is one thing that may have been left unnoticed, overseas Filipinos, especially those originating from Cebu, have been promoting Sinulog in many parts of the world. For instance, in New Zealand, Sinulog was held in such places as Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton. In Hamilton where I reside, we had a nine-day novena and as a culmination a mass in the cathedral and a cultural event drew Filipinos and Kiwi friends from other adjoining cities and towns.
According to Fr. Toto Dujali, MSP, one of the three Filipino priests in the Hamilton Diocese, Filipino Catholics have contributed to the vibrancy of the parishes by observance of feasts of saints, through choirs and ministers, and by holding distinct Filipino celebrations such as the Simbang Gabi and the Sinulog.