Zafra: Move start of Sinulog to 3 p.m.

Councilor Phillip Zafra.
Councilor Phillip Zafra.File photo

TO ENHANCE the Sinulog Festival experience, a Cebu City councilor is pushing for a schedule adjustment, advocating for the festival’s program, which includes the ritual showdown and street dancing competitions, to start at 3 p.m. beginning next year.

Councilor Phillip Zafra, who chairs the committee on peace and order, believes that this change could significantly boost spectator attendance.

Drawing from his observations during this year’s Sinulog Festival held at the South Road Properties (SRP) for the first time last Jan. 15, Zafra emphasized the need for the Sinulog to follow the example of the Cebu Provincial Government’s Pasigarbo Sa Sugbo.

“The weather is extremely hot, and it’s really different now. So for me, it’s better that we start late in the afternoon, maybe at 3 p.m., to avoid the scorching sun,” the councilor told SunStar Cebu last Nov. 15.

Last January, the Sinulog festival began with a mass at 8 a.m. at the SRP, followed by the grand parade at 9 a.m. which included the competition for street dancing, higante (giant figures), puppeteers and floats. The ritual showdown followed once the contingents arrived at the SRP.

Pasigarbo sa Sugbo, which translates to “Pride of Cebu” in English, is a Sinulog-like festival celebrating the founding anniversary of Cebu Province every August.

The festival highlights a dynamic dance and cultural presentation from the province’s 50 cities and municipalities. However, unlike the Cebu City Government-led Sinulog, the Pasigarbo’s competitions start late in the afternoon.

Intense heat

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

The Sinulog was held there instead of the usual venue, the Cebu City Sports Center.

Zafra, who served as the executive committee chairperson in the last Sinulog Festival, said now that it will still be staged in the same venue, he pushes for the festival program, which includes the mass, to start at 3 p.m.

Last Nov. 14, Sinulog Foundation Inc. executive director Elmer “Jojo” Labella cited SRP as the ideal venue for the Sinulog Festival’s main events due to renovations currently being undertaken at the Cebu City Sports Center and the ongoing civil works for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit system affecting the traditional street dancing route on Osmeña Boulevard.

Zafra said if events start in the late afternoon, he expects the ritual showdown to end at around 10 p.m.

“The number of contingents are not that many in Sinulog. If Pasigabo ended around dawn, then Sinulog will just be at around 10 p.m.,” he said.

Labella said they expect 30 contingents to perform in the street dancing competition and the ritual showdown that follows immediately after. Fifteen contingents have expressed intent to join. Registration will start on Dec. 1.

To be decided

Zafra acknowledged that if these changes are to be made, discussions must take place among the organizers, contingents and their choreographers.

He added that he has already presented this suggestion and recommendation to Labella.

In a separate interview on Monday, Nov. 20, Labella confirmed to SunStar Cebu that he indeed received the suggestion to move the start of the street dancing and ritual showdown to 3 p.m.

However, he mentioned that, as of now, no final details have been decided by the executive committee regarding the start of the competitions.

Labella is considering this suggestion, especially since last August, Davao City’s Kadayawan Festival also moved its competitions to the afternoon for the first time.

According to an August SunStar Davao report, Kadayawan’s Indak-Indak was rescheduled from the usual 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to avoid the scorching heat of the sun and related conditions.

Labella said their primary focus now is to build the infrastructure and beautify the roads in the SRP that will be used in the festival.

Labella earlier said they intend to install bleachers along the extended 3.7-kilometer route of the Sinulog Grand Parade. Roofs will be added to protect spectators from the elements.

He said spectators who will watch the ritual showdown will have a better view watching it from an amphitheater-style grandstand. They were not able to construct one this year due to adverse weather conditions.

Labella said the budget for the Sinulog Festival 2024 will still be deliberated, considering their intention to incorporate additional activities for the coming year. They are proposing a budget of P60 to P70 million for the festivities.


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