Tobias Maximino Villamor, the town’s tourism officer, named the six Cebu City contingents as the Lumad Basakanon, Banay Labangon, Tribu Mabolokon, Ciudad sa Tejero, Barangay Day-as and Barangay Tisa.
However, only four contingents so far—those from Barangays Mabolo, Tejero, Labangon and Tisa—confirmed their participation to SunStar Cebu Wednesday.
The Tribu Lumad Basakanon of Barangay Basak San Nicolas said it had yet to decide on whether it would participate, while in the case of Barangay Day-as, its barangay captain, Freddie Esmas, told SunStar Cebu that he had yet to receive an invitation from Carmen or from the Cebu Provincial Government for its contingent to participate in this year’s Sinulog sa Carmen.
The Sinulog sa Carmen has become a hot topic after Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia withdrew eight contingents from the Province of Cebu from the Cebu City Government-sponsored Sinulog Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown held last Sunday, Jan. 15, at the South Road Properties (SRP) on concerns over the preparedness of the site for the big event.
Three days before the big event, asphalting had not yet been completed at the site, causing dancers of various contingents rehearsing in the area to complain of muddy grounds that also damaged their props, as well as the lack of lights and functional toilet facilities, among other things. The seating for thousands of spectators was also not yet evident then.
The contingents of the highly urbanized cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu also withdrew from the event for the same reasons.
Garcia said the efforts of the 10 contingents that backed out would not be wasted as the contingents would compete at the 50th Sinulog sa Carmen on Jan. 22 instead.
Carmen Mayor Carlo Mariano Villamor said Wednesday that things were already in place for the Sinulog sa Carmen.
“Everything is in place. [Now] We’re focusing more on the details. Katong meeting ganiha, ang stage na set-up naman, ang grandstand sad (the stage and grandstand have been set up),” the mayor said.
He added that they just need to polish the details on traffic, security and other logistics for the event.
According to Villamor, the Carmen Grandstand could hold 1,000 or more people, but he welcomes visitors who wish to watch the celebrations in their town.
“Of course (everybody is welcome), but we have to be aware that Sinulog, mao gyud na init, traffic. If they want to come, they are welcome, but they have to take the risk of init ug (the heat and) traffic,” Villamor said.
He said the event is open to all, and there is no entrance or registration fee to be paid.
Aside from the bleachers in the grandstand, Villamor said they will also add benches at the side to accommodate more people.
The performances and awarding will happen on the same day. It will be divided into two categories: local contingents and out-of-town contingents.
The 28 groups set to join the Sinulog sa Carmen festivities already include the towns and cities that pulled out from last Sunday’s One Cebu Island Sinulog Festival held in Cebu City.
Each of the contingents will be assigned a school and a day for blocking rehearsal, tourism officer Villamor said.
Mayor Villamor assured that they are doing “reasonable preparations” and will do what they can, despite the “limitations of Carmen being a small town.”
Several roads in the northern town will be closed to traffic and a truck ban will be imposed.
Pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 2 of Mayor Carlo Mariano Villamor, several barangay and municipal roads will be closed from noon of Sunday until midnight.
A truck ban will also be imposed from 12:01 a.m. of Jan. 22 to 12:01 a.m. of Jan. 23. However, passenger buses will be allowed to ply their routes.
To avoid congestion, parking on barangay, municipal and provincial roads will also not be allowed.
The Municipal Government said it will designate a parking area.
Each of the 28 contingents will be assigned a school and a day for blocking rehearsal.
Last Tuesday, Mayor Villamor issued EO 3 suspending classes in public and private schools in all levels in the town on Monday, Jan. 23.
A number of students will participate in the Sinulog ritual showdown, thus the mayor said “it is fitting to give the students a day to rest after an exhausting day of celebrating the Sinulog sa Carmen.”
Cebu City contingents
Basak San Nicolas Barangay Captain Norman Navarro told SunStar Cebu Wednesday that the Tribu Lumad Basakanon contingent would meet Wednesday night to discuss if they would push through with joining the festival after changes were made to the contest guidelines.
Navarro explained that the Sinulog sa Carmen grand ritual showdown allocates only five minutes per contingent to perform on stage and the time will start once the music begins.
This is different from the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City in which the time allocation will start only once the contingent makes the first dance move, he said.
With this, Navarro said, they will discuss with the choreographers and dancers if they can apply changes to their performance to avoid score deductions should they decide to join on Sunday.
This is not the first time that Lumad Basakanon will be joining the Sinulog sa Carmen since it always receives an invitation from the town’s officials to participate, Navarro said.
Navarro further said that Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama offered his full support for the barangay’s participation despite what happened during the Sinulog Festival last Jan. 15 wherein 10 contingents withdrew their participation, including the Carmen contingent.
“(Rama) is very supportive. He even told me to put in our banner that ‘Cebu City supports Sinulog sa Carmen’… I sought permission from him,” Navarro said in Cebuano.
Rama has also approved the request of the Capitol to borrow 400 portable baths from the city government to be used at the Sinulog sa Carmen.
Personnel of the City’s Local School Board Plumbing Section will be in Carmen to assist in the installation of the portable baths.
Navarro said they will request the city government to allow them to use some City Hall buses to transport their dancers and props to Carmen.
The organizers of the Sinulog sa Carmen have allocated classrooms for the Lumad Basakanon contingent for their billeting area, he added.
Navarro further said they will use the financial subsidy from the Capitol worth P800,000 for their other expenses such as food.
As for the Lapu-Lapu City contingent, it is about 90 percent ready for its participation in this Sunday’s Sinulog in Carmen, John Kristoffer Rafols, officer-in-charge of the Lapu-Lapu City Tourism Department, said Wednesday.
Rafols said they allocated another amount for the purchase of meals of the contingent since their first budget of P1 million that was intended for the Sinulog Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown in Cebu City last Jan. 15, that they were supposed to join, had already been spent.
Rafols said the city government had not received the P800,000 subsidy promised by the Sinulog Foundation Inc. for its contingent’s participation in Cebu City’s Sinulog.
But he stressed that the Cebu Provincial Government will give them P800,000 in subsidy, which was still being processed as of press time.
The Tribu Mapasigarbuhong Oponganon, the official contingent of the Lapu-Lapu City Government, will compete in the Sinulog sa Carmen Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown, which are expected to start at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. (IRT, Eiver Ky Villegas, USJ-R Intern, ANV / PJB, LMY)