Rama mum on updates for Sinulog 2024

CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama. File Photo from Cebu City PIO

OMEGA de Salonera, the Sinulog 2023 free interpretation category champion from Surigao del Norte whose leader has been accused of running a cult, may join the Sinulog 2024 to defend their title, provided they receive support from other local government units (LGUs), according to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

In a phone interview on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023, Rama said he does not want to disclose the number of contingents participating in next year’s festival.

“I will not provide the number of contingents now, but what I can assure you is that Sinulog will be an exciting event,” Rama said in Cebuano.

However, the mayor disclosed that the defending champion may join the competition, adding that there will be other contingents from outside Cebu.

“I do not want to be telling. That’s my style ever since. Ang pinaka-importante (The most important thing is that) we have contingents that will dance. We have out-of-town (contingents) that will dance. And even my stand of the defending (champion) (Omega de Salonera), if they are going to be supported by the LGU, LGU ha, because (I’m part of the) League of Cities of the Philippines man ko, nya (and) I am organizing the component cities for friendship or alliance, then they can join to defend,” Rama said.

Last September, Rama said they might exclude Omega de Salonera from future Sinulog festivals if the ongoing Senate probe would not favor the group.

Omega de Salonera, formerly known as Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI), was organized by Jey Rence “Señor Agila” Quilario, a self-proclaimed “new Jesus.” Last month, he and 12 other “cult” leaders were charged with qualified trafficking in persons and child abuse, among others.

Rama also declined to provide any update on the venue for next month’s festival.

“I also would not disclose the venue completion rate because the organizers do not need to be asked; they simply say ‘Mayor, help us speed things up,’” Rama said in Cebuano.

He said he is constantly communicating with Sinulog executive committee chairman Pericles “Ricky” Dakay.

“I have been in contact with Ricky Dakay, and he is making progress. He has a point person, and he shared that they are committed to ensuring that everything will be available when the time comes,” Rama said.

The mayor said the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan and Festival Queen will take place at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), but he has yet to inspect the facility.

When asked why he prefers to hold the Sinulog Grand Parade and the Grand Ritual Showdown at the South Road Properties, he said it has to do with the expected volume of people.

“On Sunday (referring to the Sinulog Grand Parade and Showdown), millions of people will be going there, while Sinulog sa Kabataan, the usual viewers are the locals,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

SunStar Cebu tried to obtain information regarding the number of contingents from Sinulog Foundation Inc. executive director Elmer Labella, but to no avail.

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