Leyte, Masbate win top prizes; 3.8 M watch parade
A newcomer and a multi-awarded Sinulog champion from outside Cebu were adjudged the best dance contingents in the 2012 Sinulog Festival yesterday.
The top prize of P1 million goes to Leyte province’s Tribu Lingganay from the municipality of Alang-Alang, which joined Cebu City’s biggest festival for the first time and aced the Free Interpretation category.
A barrio-inspired theme with dancers in brown and orange costumes drew some of the loudest applause and won Placer, Masbate province the top prize of P1 million in the Sinulog-based category with its Culturang Placereno troupe.
It was Placer’s first time to field an entry in this category, after winning twice before as champions in the Free Interpretation category.
Placer had a safari theme and props of exotic jungle animals this year in the Free Interpretation rank, and won second place.
Sunny skies and bigger than expected crowds of spectators that reached 3.8 million based on police estimates favored the day-long Sinulog grand parade.
A rainbow appeared past 4 p.m. over the Cebu City Sports Center, where over 50 dance contingents, floats, higantes and puppeteers made their final presentations on stage in a stadium filled beyond its 12,000-seating capacity.
“It’s a celebration of faith and at the same time a celebration of people,” said 35-year-old Alino Noval of Davao City, who was busy taking photos of revelers and parade contingents along Gen. Maxilom Avenue, where the parade passed.
He said he never fails to come to Cebu to experience the Sinulog, whose roots are the widespread devotion to the Sto. Niño or Child Jesus, whose wooden image was given as a gift in 1521 by the explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon, a Cebu chieftain.
Crowd-control problems were noted along the carousel route of the parade, where spectators pushed into cordons to get a closer view of dance performances, such as Fuente Osmeña.
But the whole-day event was “generally peaceful with no significant untoward incidents” said Cebu City Police Chief Melvin Ramon Buenafe.
He said it was “the biggest turnout of people in Cebu City so far estimated at 3.8 to 4 million people at the height of the grand parade.”
Twelve pickpocket incidents, with seven foreign visitors as victims, were reported. The street revelry also resulted in random incidents of drunken conduct.
Aside from a brief drizzle in the afternoon, the weather cooperated with the festival all the way to the grand finale and fireworrks past 8 p.m.
“This is not our Sinulog alone but of everybody including our visitors, tourists, and even the smallest members of our society,” said Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who opened the Sinulog parade in the morning.
A Mass was officiated by Msgr. Esteban Binghay at 8 a.m. in the Cebu City Sports Center, where a short fireworks display kicked off the grand parade.
Vice President Jejomar Binay delivered a one-sentence greeting of “Pit Senyor!” , in line with the organizers’ advice to keep political messages out of the festival.
President Benigno Aquino III, who was invited, wasn’t able to attend as he did last year but several national legislators occupied the VIP section in the grandstand, including Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla”, Sen. Teddy Casiño, San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito, former senators Miguel Zubiri and Francisco Tatad.
Also present were Cebu congressmen Pablo John Garcia, Luigi Quisumbing and Cutie del Mar.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia performed with the La Torta Festival dancers at the start and end of the parade. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma came in the afternoon.
The out-of-town contingents drew loud applause from the crowd like the Pasaka Festival from Tanauan, Leyte, the Kuratong Festival of Dulay, Leyte and contingents from Dumaguete City and Cotabato. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Carmel Matus, Rhea Ruth Rosell And Chito Aragon