Espinoza: It’s done

The religious celebration of the feast in honor of the Sto. Niño on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023 is already over. As usual, it was peaceful and orderly. There were no adverse comments. It was all praises to Cebu’s patron, the Holy Child. Despite the threat to health brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the worshipers’ numbers have never dwindled.

On the other hand, the Sinulog Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown held at the South Road Properties (SRP) is also over. The organizers have considered its staging a success. It was not spared though from the criticisms of netizens and some mainstream media personalities because of the venue selection of Mayor Michael Rama. The reason is this: It had always been raining and the construction of the stage at the SRP had been ongoing prior to the Sunday event.

As the chairman of the Sinulog Foundation Inc., Mayor Rama has a bigger say on this yearly event that was put off in 2021 and 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The city mayor made the decision sometime last year to hold this year’s Sinulog Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown on a vacant lot at the SRP.

Although the City did not divulge the real reason behind the transfer of the Sinulog from its usual venue at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), I think the reason behind it was perhaps to market the SRP and save the city proper from the traffic woes and tons of post-festival garbage from revelers.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia who promised to dance during the Sinulog’s finale (which she did before during the time when the Sinulog’s venue was still the CCSC) later begged off when the weather was not cooperative days before Jan. 15, the big day for the competitors to show off their dancing prowess.

Among the concerns of Governor Garcia was the health of the dancers because it was always raining, and naturally the venue could be muddy. Her other concerns included the traffic since the SRP road that connects to southern Cebu had been decided to be closed during the Sinulog. She eventually pulled out the 10 contingents from the province from joining the Sinulog.

Well, the weather on Sunday cooperated. Some said Mayor Rama’s prayers for a sunny day had been heard somehow, and the Sinulog Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown at the SRP proceeded as scheduled. Successful? Yes, the organizers said. But, in his Facebook post, City Councilor Jerry Guardo said “nothing is perfect but there [is] always room for improvements and these can be addressed in the future.”

No one could say that Governor Garcia was not right in her decision not to dance and convince the contingents from the province not to participate because she was only after the health and welfare of the dancers who are mostly young adults. Call it a precaution. Neither could we say also that Mayor Rama was not correct in insisting on holding the Sinulog in a new venue. Some said that the city mayor was lucky that the weather cooperated.

Councilor Guardo’s post was a reply to the comment of John Rey Saavedra of the Philippine News Agency that the traffic in the south side of the city was at its worst on Sunday during the holding of the Sinulog at the SRP because the SRP road was closed for the duration of the event.

What about the businesses in the city center? Did we hear complaints that they did not make any revenue on Sinulog day? It can be recalled that business was brisk for all the establishments right in the heart of the city during the pre-pandemic Sinulog festivities.