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Friday, September 17, 2021

Briones: Plebeian pageant

CEBU City will have to do without an “institution” next year.

Mayor Tomas Osmeña decided to scrap the Miss Cebu pageant so the City Government can cut its expenses. That, and, oh, because the event is “elitist” and “for the rich.” Those were his words, by the way, not mine.

And contrary to reports, the mayor said, the Cebu City Tourism Commission (CCTC) did not spend P200,000 to P300,000 to hold the annual event. It was more like P4 million.

So okay. The move had nothing to do, at all, with the fact that the CCTC commissioner and the pageant's project chairperson was Jaja Chiongbian-Rama. You know, the wife of Edu Rama, former mayor Michael Rama's nephew, who won a seat in the City Council in last May's elections.

I say “was” because I just found out the position of CCTC commissioner is coterminous.

Anyway, all is not lost for beauty pageant aficionados. The commission might still hold a pageant, albeit it will be barangay-based.

So say goodbye to the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino as venue. Instead, say hello to the covered court of barangay so and so. You know, the one next to the garbage-laden creek that overflows during a heavy downpour. Yeah, that one.

But who said the event has to be held at the Waterfront? If that's one of the reasons the mayor scrapped the pageant, organizers can always move to a less plush venue, said Sinulog Foundation Inc. Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros. “Maybe they can make it pang-masa and tone down the pageant,” he even suggested.

The pageant is one of the activities during the week-long annual Sinulog celebration.

According to the article of Sun.Star Cebu Princess Dawn H. Felicitas, it was originally called Miss Sinulog in 1984 before it became Miss Cebu Tourism.

Ballesteros said Sinulog revelers may opt to watch the Sinulog Festival Queen instead if the mayor doesn't change his mind.

But it wouldn't be the same, would it? Miss Cebu “promotes Cebu as a tourist destination and its winners serve as ambassadresses of Cebu.”

And yet, Osmeña pointed out that he hasn't heard of any tourist saying they will visit Cebu City because of Miss Cebu.

Hmm. I give him that.

Still, in the pageant's 32-year existence, Osmeña held the post of mayor for 15 years, or from 1989 to 1995 and from 2001 to 2010. He was also the south district representative from 2010 to 2013. During this period, not once did he utter that the event was “elitist” or “for the rich.”

But wait. The mayor revealed that he would rather the City invest in making the Sinulog Festival Queen grander because it attracts local and foreign tourists alike.

Well, there you go. Osmeña wants an event that's more inclusive, so to speak, where members of the audience don't have to dress up to the nines and where candidates don't have to have foreign-sounding last names like Jamie Herrell or Steffi Rose Pearson Aberasturi.

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