‘No disqualification’ despite Sinulog contingents’ withdrawal from grand parade

THE withdrawal of a contingent’s participation from the Sinulog Grand Parade will not affect the victory of its festival queen.

This was the assurance made by Vince Escario, founding chairman of the Search for the Sinulog Festival Queen, on Friday night, January 13, as Talisay City’s representative, Kiara Liane Wellington, was crowned the Sinulog Festival Queen 2023.

Under the guidelines of the Search for Sinulog Festival Queen 2023, the candidate “must be the lead dancer of her contingent and must participate in the street dancing competition during the grand parade.”

A candidate who fails to dance during the street dancing competition will be “dethroned” and “prizes and awards will be revoked.”

Wellington cannot participate in the street dancing on Sunday, January 15, as Talisay City’s contingent withdrew from the grand parade and ritual showdown following Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s announcement that 10 contingents from Cebu Province would not dance at the South Road Properties (SRP).

Garcia said she consulted the mayors of the 10 contingents — Carmen, Carcar City, Mandaue City, Moalboal, Naga City, Talisay City, Tuburan, Toledo City, Lapu-Lapu City, and Consolacion — and they decided not to perform at the SRP for the “health and safety” of the contingents.

A number of people have aired their concerns about the SRP as venue of the grand parade and ritual showdown, as construction works have not yet been completed, leaving the area muddy.

“I will take it upon myself to make the hard decision in order to protect the constituents of the province of Cebu. Because above all, it is the health and safety of our constituents that I must prioritize,” said Garcia on Thursday, January 12.

Escario said on Friday, though, that the 10 contingents’ withdrawal is “no cause for any concern.”

“In the event that the Sinulog Festival 2023 and her court (her runners-up) will come from and represent from a contingent that will not be performing on Sunday, that is no cause for any concern,” he said.

He added that “no disqualification will happen,” but the winners will still perform during the Best of Cebu portion around noontime at the SRP on Sunday.

Sinulog Foundation Inc. executive director Elmer Labella said that since the festival queens have already prepared, they cannot just be disqualified.

Despite the concerns over the venue and withdrawals, Labella said that he “respects the predicament of the governor, her concerns.”

“We have to go on with our Sinulog, our One Cebu Sinulog 2023,” he said.

The Sinulog Festival Queen 2023 was held at the Cebu City Sports Center on Friday night.

Wellington was joined by festival queens from Carcar City (Angelica Macasero, first runner-up), Toledo City (Amor Beah Singh, second runner-up), Lapu-Lapu City (Lourelle Henj Ando Manlosa, third runner-up) and Inayawan (April Joana Zapanta, fourth runner-up).

Wellington took home P150,000, aside from minor prizes. (Eiver Ky Villegas, USJ-R Intern/LMY)