This would leave just 12 of the 22 groups that had been slated to perform at the culminating activity of the One Cebu Island Sinulog Festival 2023, as she said that Lapu-Lapu City would also pull out of the competition if SRP were to remain the site of the event.
In an announcement made at 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, Garcia cited the concerns of contingents that had conducted rehearsals in the SRP earlier in the day and those of Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. for her decision.
The nine contingents that would no longer perform are those of Carmen, Carcar City, Mandaue City, Moalboal, Naga City, Talisay City, Tuburan, Toledo City and the Consolacion guest contingent with which the governor had been slated to dance.
However, the governor said these contingents would join if the event would be held at its traditional venue, which is the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).
Three days before the Sinulog Festival Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown, performers had expressed concern over the condition of the venue at the SRP and expressed hope that the event would be held at the CCSC instead.
But Councilor Jerry Guardo, chairman of the committee on infrastructure, said Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, that there is no longer enough time to switch to “Plan B” and have the grand parade at the CCSC.
The absence of enough shade during rains, unreadiness of restrooms, and muddy grounds were just some of the concerns of some contingents during their rehearsals at the SRP on Thursday.
Around 7 p.m., Mayor Gullas called on Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to listen to the contingents’ concerns and move the parade venue back to the CCSC after learning about what the Talisay contingent “had to endure” at the SRP site on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, Kathryn Estenzo, choreographer of the Carcar City contingent, told SunStar Cebu that the venue at the SRP will affect the delivery of their performance on Sunday, Jan. 15.
Carcar City was declared champion of the One Cebu Island Sinulog sa Kabataan held at the CCSC last Jan. 8.
“As you can see, the time element, the weather, it is not already favorable to our contingent and to the people who will be watching the event,” said Estenzo.
Estenzo added that they intentionally booked their rehearsal schedule for Jan. 14 as they are still hoping that the venue will be transferred to CCSC.
“Among gi tuyo nga among rehearsal will be on Saturday morning because I am expecting and praying that there will be a sudden change of venue,” said Estenzo.
Estenzo also lamented that the surroundings of the SRP venue are far different from the ones in CCSC, especially when there is not enough infrastructure to amplify the music of the instruments.
Meanwhile, a performer of the Talisay City contingent also expressed his concerns over the lack of shaded areas where contingents can take shelter during a downpour.
Jaylord Celin told reporters that some parts of the venue are muddy, which could damage the props and cause injury to the performers.
Celin said some of their props had already sustained damage after getting stuck in the mud.
“If the weather will remain like this, it really won’t be safe. So much better, based on our experience in Abellana (CCSC) in 2020, nindot gyud siya,” said Celin.
The Sinulog Grand Parade was last held in 2020, after which the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic forced a two-year break in its celebration.
Celin said the modified container vans intended as restrooms are also not yet functional, so the contingents are having a hard time looking for areas where they can relieve themselves.
Despite the challenges, Celin said their group will make sure that they can showcase a grand performance on Sunday.
The Talisay City contingent bagged third place in the grand ritual showdown of the Sinulog-based category in 2020.
In a statement early Thursday evening, Gullas said the health and safety of the contingents, including 500 Talisaynons, would be placed at risk at the unprepared venue.
Gullas called on Rama to move the staging of the grand parade to the CCSC, saying the Sinulog sa Kabataan had been successfully held there last Sunday.
Gullas said his contingent arrived for rehearsals at the SRP venue at 2 a.m. Thursday to find no electricity or lights, or even a coordinator there to guide the contingents for the “blocking” that had been scheduled at 3-6 a.m.
Aside from this, Gullas said there was no holding area for the contingents, no area on which to put their props, and only one tent for all the contingents to run to for shelter if it rains.
No more time
However, Guardo said all preparations of the Cebu City Government are focused on completing the venue at the SRP before Sunday.
It was previously reported that organizers of the Sinulog Festival were still considering the CCSC as the fallback option in the event of extreme weather and the unreadiness of the SRP venue.
In a separate interview, however, Mayor Michael Rama presented his Plan B, and this is not to hold the event at the CCSC but inside the Cebu Coliseum on Sanciangko St.
But Guardo said the Sinulog Grand Parade will definitely be held at the SRP.
“We do not have enough time. It’s not that easy to mobilize. All eyes are really focused here. Our preparations, everything, including the light system, the internet signal. We are really definite that this will be the venue for the upcoming Sinulog mardi gras,” said Guardo.
The SRP property used as the venue is owned by the Cebu City Government but is part of its joint venture agreement with Filinvest Land Inc.
According to Guardo, the progress in the preparation of the venue is already at 90 percent but this pertains only to the asphalting of the parade route in the SRP.
What remains to be asphalted is a portion in front of the stage where the floats and “higantes” (giant figures of famous personalities) will pass during the parade, he said.
“The issue is really the mud. The dancers and participants will be muddied, so we have to make sure that in time for the Sinulog mardi gras, not a single part or any portion will muddy the dancers,” Guardo said.
Guardo said they will work overtime to fully asphalt the parade route on Friday.
Guardo said there is no need for the contingents and spectators to bring boots as the venue will be free from mud before the grand parade on Sunday.
Rama and other officials had a walkthrough inspection on Thursday morning at the SRP venue.
Rama ordered the cleaning of the sidewalks, trimming of trees, and putting up of additional lighting around the Sinulog venue.
Despite the challenges brought by the weather, Rama said the city government would continue to prepare the venue for the festival at the SRP.
“I need everybody’s prayer. I need everybody’s help, including (that of the) media because if we bring in negative then the energy is negative. We have to bring in positive, positive, in the name of Sto. Niño,” said Rama.
As mayor and chairman of the Sinulog Foundation Inc., Rama said he takes full responsibility for making sure that the venue at the SRP will be finished on schedule.
Earlier in the day, Garcia had said she would perform with Sarok dancers of the Municipality of Consolacion during the ritual showdown of the Sinulog Grand Parade.
“You know that I had already expressed my views and concerns. In the end, whether my concerns were addressed or not, mopatigbabaw gihapon ang akong debosyon sa Señor Sto. Niño (my devotion to the Señor Sto. Niño will prevail),” she said Thursday.
Last Monday, Garcia expressed concerns about holding the grand parade and the ritual showdown at the SRP, citing the traffic it will cause residents in the south of Cebu and security problems.
She said that if it were up to her, the activity would be held at its usual venue at the CCSC.
“You know that every year that I am governor, I make an offering to the Señor Sto. Niño even during the time I was suspended… I slipped out because I wanted to make sure my devotion for the province would prevail,” she said in Cebuano.
In 2013, Garcia stayed in the Capitol for days after the Office of the President ordered her suspended for six months over an administrative case filed by the late vice governor Gregorio Sanchez. Garcia was awaiting the Court of Appeals’ ruling on her appeal for a temporary restraining order when she slipped out of the Capitol to dance in the Sinulog.
This year would mark Garcia’s 14th Sinulog performance.
On Thursday, Al Quiblat, chief of weather bureau Pagasa Visayas, said the low pressure area (LPA) looming in the country is less likely to develop into a tropical cyclone or tropical depression.
He told SunStar Cebu that the LPA is drawing near Surigao or at least 130 kilometers.
He said there may still be light to moderate and occasional heavy rains or scattered rain showers until Saturday, Jan. 14, when the seaborne procession will be conducted at the Mactan Channel.
Quiblat said Sunday, when the grand parade will be held, is expected to be partly cloudy to cloudy or to have generally fair weather with less chance of rain of only 50 percent.
Pagasa is looking at two scenarios: The LPA may cross to the east of Mindanao and Visayas, or it may go to the east of Luzon.
“But if this will cross Mindanao and Visayas, the condition will be less favorable on Sunday,” he said.
Quiblat advised everyone to take precautionary measures by bringing umbrellas and water, wearing light and comfortable clothes, among others, when attending the Traslacion on Friday, seaborne procession on Saturday, and the Sinulog Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown on Sunday. (With MKG, CTL / PJB)