4 million people join Sinulog festival

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Monday, January 21, 2013


CEBU CITY -- Although the crowd made him wish for wider sidewalks, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama commended the organizers and volunteers for making the Sinulog parade “awesome, majestic and superb.”

The police estimated the crowds in both the church activities and parade at four million. The weather, sunny all throughout, defied forecasts of cloudy skies.

“This is the first time in the past 10 years, I think, that the Sinulog grand parade did not get rained on at all,” said Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Ricky Ballesterors, in an interview after the activity.

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He agreed with the mayor’s assessment and said their only problem was the strong wind, which made it difficult for many dancing contingents to manage their props.

Replay of the Sinulog Grand Parade at the Cebu City Sports Center

“It was generally peaceful. No major incidents were reported,” Police Regional Office Central Visayas Director Marcelo Garbo Jr. told reporters, but confirmed there were some problems with crowd control and petty crimes.

Accidents that injured two participants also marred the day, especially for their contingents.

The girl who served as Zamboanga Sibugay’s contestant in the Festival Queen competition fell face down while walking on the parade route. She held on to the Sto. Niño in her hands, instead of trying to break her fall.

A 16-year-old girl from the Cotabato City contingent was sideswiped by a motorcycle on Imus Road at 10:30 a.m. and reportedly wasn’t well enough to keep dancing.

As for the peace and order situation, Rama said he is thankful that the people who joined the revelry behaved themselves.

Photos by Sunnex

Sidewalks

Despite the celebration’s success, Rama said there are still areas that need to be improved. This includes widening the city’s sidewalks.

“The huge crowd is a continuing challenge so that matter (sidewalks) will have to be addressed in the future,” he said.

Rama, the overall chairman of the SFI, said there is also a need to clear the existing sidewalks of any divisions or obstructions to prevent accidents.

He observed, after three rounds of the 6.1-kilometer parade route (on a motorbike), that there were people who violated the ban on carrying liquor during the parade.

He saw people bringing beer aboard some floats.

“Uso kaayo na sa ila karon (They’re so common these days) and we don’t want it to happen again,” he said.

He thanked the SFI as well as the police, traffic enforcers and volunteers for their efforts in this year’s Sinulog.

Pickpockets

Apart from the liquor, Director Garbo said in his press briefing that he noticed that some floats, particularly those with celebrities aboard, were throwing giveaways and causing commotions.

“It is considered a potential problem in crowd control,” Garbo said, adding he will suggest to SFI not to allow that anymore.

In Police Station 2, three people, including a German national, reported to the police that pickpockets filched their valuables.

Joel Cartagen, a balikbayan from Las Vegas, said he lost P16,000 in Fuente Osmeña.

Renato Cabellon, a soft drink distributor, said he lost P30,000 in front of a mall on N. Bacalso Ave.

Harard Kampheus, a German national, told the police his wallet with P3,000 cash was stolen on Gen. Maxilom Ave.

Meanwhile, two men were arrested during the festivity. Rodolfo Pantiño, 37, was arrested outside the Cebu City Sports Complex for allegedly selling fake passes. Seized from his possession were eight pink and six green passes worth P500 each.

In Barangay Sambag II, a 17-year-old boy was caught stealing inside an apartment while the tenants were out to watch the parade.

But the risk of getting one’s pockets picked in the crowd didn’t stop people from hitting the streets for the parade.

Motivation

Anjie Apostol and her friends elbowed their way through the crowd on Osmeña Blvd. Sunday afternoon, hoping to see their favorite celebrities.

“Niari mi aron makakita sa among mga idol (We came here to see our idols),” 11-year-old Anjie said.

She and her four friends live in Barangay Capitol Site, which is near Fuente Circle, where they waited for hours to see Cebuana actress Kim Chiu and her fellow stars in a popular TV soap opera.

For many spectators of the Sinulog grand parade, the event would not be complete without celebrities.

Sania Locay, 32, braved the crowd after lunch. The Cebu City resident always looks forward to the Sinulog because of celebrities joining the grand parade, she said.

She hoped to see her favorite actor Robin Padilla. Locay brought along her eight-year-old daughter, who wanted to see Chiu.

“Ang ako lang nga malipay akong anak (I just want to make my daughter happy),” she said.

Celebrity

PO1 Quirino Jungco Jr. said the crowd could hardly be controlled every time a float carrying celebrities passes by.

“Kung naay artista, di na gyud magpatuo ang mga taw. Mudutdot na pag-ayo (When there’s a celebrity, the people will no longer listen. They keep pushing forward),” he said.

Among the celebrities who were seen were actors Philip Salvador and Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and singer Gary Valenciano.

The float carrying Chiu and her co-stars arrived on Osmeña Blvd. by mid-afternoon. Scrambling to get a glimpse of the stars, the crowd spilled into the streets, as though in revolt, leaving crowd control personnel shaking their heads in dismay.

For candidates in the Senate elections in May, the crowds offered an opportunity to improve name recall.

At least six senatorial candidates who attended the Sinulog praised the Cebuanos for successfully merging religion and culture in an entertaining festivity that now has international appeal.

“The Sinulog is always fabulous. With the wonderful performances and with the energy of the performers, there’s nothing like the Sinulog festival,” said Representative Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna party-list. He is running for the Senate this year.

Standards

Former senator Jose Miguel Zubiri of the United Nationalists Alliance (UNA) recalled he started attending the Sinulog festival in 1998 when he was brought here by his then girlfriend, actress-singer Vina Morales, a Cebuana.

“I can say that through the years or at least the last seven years, the Sinulog festival is becoming better and better,” Zubiri said.

He said it has “institutionalized festivities” in the country and set high standards for others to follow.

“This is my first time attending the Sinulog but I already witnessed the religiosity of the Cebuanos when I attended the thanksgiving mass for the canonization of Saint Pedro Calungsod last November,” said another candidate for the Senate, Cynthia Villar.

For his part, senatorial candidate Richard Gordon, a former tourism secretary, described the Sinulog as the crowning glory of all festivals in the country.

“We are seriously observing and studying what the Cebuanos are doing and see what we can adopt in Palawan. We get ideas from well-renowned cities like Cebu,” said Puerto Princes City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, who is also an independent candidate for the Senate.

It was his first time to attend the Sinulog. (PDF/DSM/RSB/EOB of Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 21, 2013.

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