Sinulog schedule change opposed

Sinulog 2023
Sinulog 2023 File photo

THE proposal to move the start of the Sinulog Festival program from morning to afternoon does not sit well with a Cebu City official who argued that the public may be hesitant to join the festivities due to the new time.

Councilor Jocelyn “Joy” Pesquera, chairperson of the tourism committee, said she is worried the change might lead to a drop in tourist arrivals.

Pesquera said it’s impractical for contingents to perform late in the afternoon, possibly even at midnight. Not only is it unhealthy, she said, but it will also just be more stressful for the performers.

“If it starts at 3 p.m., it will not be healthy for the dancers,” she said.

Recounting her prior experiences as a Sinulog dancer, Pesquera cited the physical challenges posed by performing during the street dancing and ritual showdown competitions. Extending the wait time for performers, will only exacerbate their struggles, she said.

She also pointed out that the grand parade does not only showcase dancing contingents but also higantes, puppeteers, and floats featuring celebrities, which might cause additional delays with stopovers on the streets to entertain fans.

Pesquera suggested keeping the current schedule so the public will have the whole day to celebrate, saying they are already accustomed to the Sinulog starting in the morning.

Last January, the Sinulog festival started with a mass at 8 a.m. at the South Road Properties (SRP), followed by the grand parade at 9 a.m. The festivities ended around 8 p.m.

Last Nov. 15, Councilor Phillip Zafra, head of the peace and order committee, stressed the need to revise the Sinulog schedule at the SRP to enhance the spectators’ experience.

He said the intense heat negatively impacted the spectators during the Sinulog’s first staging at the SRP last January.

In the past, the parade was held in the uptown area of Cebu City, while the ritual showdown was held inside the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

Zafra cited the need for the Sinulog to follow the example of the Cebu Provincial Government’s Pasigarbo Sa Sugbo.

Pasigarbo sa Sugbo, or “Pride of Cebu,” is an August festival celebrating the founding anniversary of Cebu Province. It showcases dynamic dance and cultural presentations from the province’s 50 town and cities, with competitions starting late in the afternoon, unlike the earlier Sinulog led by the Cebu City Government.

Zafra, a former executive committee chairman of the Sinulog festival, advocates starting the festival program, including the mass, at 3 p.m,

Earlier, Elmer “Jojo” Labella, executive director of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI), said the Sinulog will continue to be held at the SRP due to the ongoing renovations at the CCSC and the ongoing civil works for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit system.

Midnight

Mayor Michael Rama on Tuesday told City Hall’s online program that he acknowledged the suggested time adjustment for the Sinulog festivities, but expressed concerns about the program concluding well past midnight.

He questioned the potential time the event will end, emphasizing the need for a holistic decision, taking into account factors such as safety.

“If the (Sinulog) event starts at 3 in the afternoon, when will it end? Around 2 in the morning? I don’t really want that either,” he said.

Rama said he anticipates the number of performing contingents to go up, and some will end up performing later than others.

However, Zafra is confident the ritual showdown will end by 10 p.m., noting there are only a few contingents participating in next year’s Sinulog.

Labella said they expect 30 contingents to perform in the ritual showdown and street dancing competitions. So far, 15 contingents have expressed intent to join. Registration will start on Dec. 1.

Labella confirmed on Monday, Nov. 20, that he received the suggestion to move the Sinulog schedule.

He said the executive committee has yet to come up with its final decision.

Labella said he is contemplating this idea, particularly since Davao City’s Kadayawan Festival moved its competitions in the afternoon for the first time last August.

Labella added that their current focus is on developing infrastructure and enhancing SRP roads for the upcoming festival.

Their plan includes installing bleachers along the extended 3.7-kilometer route of the Sinulog grand parade and adding roofs to protect spectators.

Labella envisions a better view for those watching the ritual showdown from an amphitheater-style grandstand, a feature they were not able to construct this year due to adverse weather.

Labella said they have yet to finalize the budget for the Sinulog Festival 2024 since they plan to introduce additional activities, but it will be between P60 and P70 million.

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