As soon as the New Year opens, preparations will heighten for the next big event in Cebu – the Sinulog on Jan. 20.
In schools and neighborhoods, Sinulog dance troupes will be practicing their steps and cheers for the grand parade and competition where the first prize is a trophy and P1 million.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he wanted public school students to still join the Sinulog grand parade and dance competitions even if some quarters worry that the time spent for rehearsals takes a toll on their academic performance.
“The Sinulog can never be without the children. It’s just a matter of the schools adjusting so that the educational aspect will not be affected,” he said.
The mayor said teachers and school principals know that he insists that rehearsals take place only after class hours.
For devotees, joining the parade is both fun and a personal offering in honor of the Sto. Niño or Holy Child Jesus, patron of Cebu City, whose religious feast day coincides with the secular merrymaking.
The Cebu City Council approved P22 million as assistance for the Sinulog Foundation, which oversees the city’s biggest festival.
The amount was included in the city 2013 annual budget passed on Thursday. Most of the P22 million goes to cash prizes for the best dance contingents, floats and other contests during the Sunday grand parade, which draws over 1 million spectators every year.
The event also coincides with the “diamond” celebration of Cebu City’s 75th year as a city.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who joins the parade each year, is supposed to dance with the Rosquillos Festvial dancers of Liloan town.
But with the ongoing Capitol impasse, where she has refused to leave her Capitol office since Dec. 19 in defiance of a six-month suspension order, the plans are up in the air.
“We still don’t know if the plan is pushing through but we continue to hope that it does,” said Ricky Ballesteros, executive director of the foundation.
A new element to watch out for is the participation of Ginatilan town, whose festival dancers were invited to portray the life of San Pedro Calungsod, the first Visayan saint who was canonized last Oct. 21.
In the grand finale, the main stage will depict old Cebu and its changes from the 1930s into a modern, progressive city.
The theme will be “Cebu City: Turning diamond. Gems of the past, brilliance of the present” showing different eras of Cebu in its 75-year history.
“We will be depicting the different eras with music and dance,” said Ballesteros.
Choreography and dance workshops have been going on since July 2012.
“We always encourage choreographers to come up with new concepts in their production,” he said.
Tickets to watch the parade at the main stage of the Cebu City Sports Center will be sold starting January 2 at the foundation office in the center.
The Sinulog will kick off on January 11, a Friday, with a Mass at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino and a parade tot he sports center.
With P22 million contributed by the city government, the foundation needs to raise only P15 million more from ticket sales, sponsorships and sidewalk stall leases to meet its P35 million budget.
The private foundation will operate on the same budget as the previous year.
A sum of P2 million will be spent to mount the the grand finale and give aid to out-of-town contingents who will each receive P50,000.
Earlier in January, unidentified robbers opened a vault of the foundation and took P1.6 million in cash and valuables in the wee morning hours after the Sinulog finale number.
Learning from this unsolved robbery, Ballesteros said they are being “extra careful” with security.
In June, 16 closed circuit TV cameras were installed around the sports center. The security guard agency was also changed. But the missing cash was declared a loss in the foundation’s books.
Ballesteros said he has asked for uniformed policemen to be fielded on 24-hour duty in areas that will be used as dormitories by out-of-town contingents.
“The robbery is still under investigation . But we are praying that the real culprit will be arrested,” said Ballesteros.
Sinulog sa Kabataan
As of yesterday, 13 school contingents have signed up for the parade of the January 13 Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan (Sinulog for youths in the city) – 6 for the elementary division and 7 for the secondary division.
Another 16 school contingents are joining the Jan. 12 Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan (Sinulog for youths in the province) – 7 for the Elementary division and 9 for the Secondary division.
So far seven out-of-town contingents said they would join the Jan. 20 Sunday grand parade – Placer, Masbate; Lanao del Norte; Zamboanga Sibugay; Kidapawan City; Tangub City; and Tan-awan and Alang-Alang in Leyte.
Palo, Leyte province was also invited and their response is being awaited.
In past years, former mayor and now south district representative Tomas Osmeña expressed dismay over letting school children compete in the Sinulog dance contest saying the long preparations and rehearsals distract them from school work.
But Mayor Rama said educators know they have to balance academic requirements and extra-curricular activities.
“I don’t have to be telling them. They know the schedule of the practices,” the mayor said.
Different colleges and universities will participate in the Sinulog opening parade where dancers will highlight Modern Cebu, Philippine festivals and Cebu as the Asean City of Culture. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters