As expected, I did not go out for the Sinulog at the South Road Properties or SRP on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. The day was very hot and, at my age, I did not want to go through the hassles of being in a crowd on a hot day in a place that had little natural covering. But my son did go to the SRP with his friends and went home at midnight. With the crowd and the lack of transportation, I wasn’t surprised he arrived home late. I’ve been to many Sinulogs in my younger years and I know that the enjoyment only comes when you are at the venue. Going into and going out of the venue is the problem.
I saw the photos a reporter posted on Facebook inside a mall at the SRP. The crowd was there, apparently to escape the heat at the Sinulog venue. In past Sinulogs held at the Cebu City Sports Center, the crowd was dispersed. From the uptown to the downtown area of Cebu City and even inside the Basilica, the fiesta mood was evident. Now, only one or two establishments have made a killing. I used to buy items from stalls that lined up along Osmeña Blvd. But with the change of venue, the stall owners were complaining of low sales. Part of the blame could also be heaped on the unfinished Bus Rapid Transit or BRT project construction.
My hope is for Cebu City to have officials who are cognizant of history and of the essence of the feast. The center of every fiesta should be the Basilica, and not the malls. I did hear Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia talk about the costs of holding the Sinulog at the SRP. But he is not the mayor, at least for now. And he is a Garcia. We all know how Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has been opposing the holding of the Sinulog at the SRP.
Perhaps a new set of officials will decide on the return of the Sinulog to the Cebu City Sports Center. As it is now, participation in the Sinulog has been reduced considerably. I agree with the observation that the current Sinulog has been reduced to an inter-barangay competition when before it used to attract many out-of-town contingents. Perhaps, a summit is needed to discuss the direction the Sinulog will take. The Cebu City Government and the Sinulog Foundation Inc. should sum up the decades of hosting the Sinulog and learn lessons from it. The lessons should be used as a guide. As they say, “ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.”
That summit should be participated in by all personalities who have invested much in making the Sinulog successful throughout the decades. It should include Capitol officials and local government officials in the province. Cebu City should not stake sole ownership of the event and should not make decisions by their lonesome. The Sinulog, after all, is a Cebuano undertaking attached to the veneration of the Sto. Niño. Cebuanos should be given a say on its holding. Cebu City officials should learn about the value of openness. The Basilica may be in Cebu City and the Sto. Niño fiesta is mainly a Cebu City celebration, but Fiesta Señor is all about the island and its environs.