SFI merges 2 youth Sinulog events into ‘One Cebu Sinulog sa Kabataan’

FOR the first time in the Sinulog Festival’s history, the dancing youth contingents from Cebu City and Cebu Province will not be competing separately.

This will happen as the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan and Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan have been merged this year into a single event—the One Cebu Sinulog sa Kabataan Open Competition (OCSKOC), which will be held at the Cebu City Sports Center starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023.

At least 21 contingents have already confirmed their participation, according to Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Elmer “Jojo” Labella.

Labella said SFI has decided to ditch the usual two-day competition to pursue the idea of “One Cebu” in the Sinulog festivities, which means that Cebu City is not a separate entity from other places in the province.

Before the SFI’s decision to stage the OCSKOC, it had been a practice to hold separate contests for contingents from Cebu City and those coming from the province on separate days.

Winners in the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan and Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan qualify as participants in the Sinulog Grand Parade where bigger cash prizes await.

Labella told SunStar Cebu Tuesday, Jan. 3, that the 2023 version of the Sinulog sa Kabataan is the first time that all Cebu-based contingents will be competing under a single category.

The “One Cebu” theme for the Sinulog Festival is still under the supervision of the SFI in cooperation with the Cebu City Government, but they got more help from the Cebu Provincial Government and the cities of Talisay, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, according to Labella.

Labella further said that only the OCSKOC will be held at Cebu City Sports Center, and all the contingents will perform on the grand stage on the venue’s grounds.

The OCSKOC is expected to end at 7 p.m.

The Sinulog street dancing and ritual showdown will be held at the South Road Properties (SRP) on Jan. 15.

Of the 21 contingents that have already confirmed their participation in the OCSKOC, Labella said 13 are from Cebu City, while eight are from the different localities of Cebu Province.

In January 2020, Barangay Basak San Nicolas was hailed as the champion of the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan.

The group bested nine other contingents, and it also grabbed all major awards such as the best in street dancing, best in costume and best in musicality.

Meanwhile, Carcar City bagged the championship trophy of the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan after beating five other contingents.

In March 2020, Cebu was placed on a lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused the shelving of in-person Sinulog activities in the next two years.


Labella further said that each of the contingents from local government units in Cebu Province are entitled to receive a total of P1.6 million in financial subsidy for their participation in the festival.

The SFI head said P800,000 will be given by the Cebu City Government, while another P800,000 will come from the Cebu Provincial Government.

Cebu City contingents will still be able to receive P800,000 from the City Government.

Security preparation

Meanwhile, officials of law enforcement agencies and other government offices will send off Wednesday, Jan. 4 more than 1,000 police officers, soldiers and other personnel who comprise the Task Force Sinulog.

The send-off ceremony will be held at the Cebu City Sports Center.

Task Force Sinulog is composed of personnel from the Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection and other government agencies. It aims to ensure security for the activities lined up for the Sinulog Festival celebration.

The Sinulog 2023 will kick off with a Walk with Jesus, a foot procession, on Thursday, Jan. 5.

Col. Ireneo Dalogdog, chief of the Cebu City Police Office, said Mayor Michael Rama, Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO 7) Director Brig. Gen. Jerry Bearis and officials from Cebu City Government and Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño will witness the send-off ceremony.

They will also conduct a “walk-through” after the send-off ceremony to ensure security during the opening salvo Walk with Jesus.

“We will conduct a walk-through for the upcoming Walk with Jesus. We will inspect the routes. After the walk-through, we will hold a simulation exercise,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

The PRO 7 officials who were assigned by Bearis to help in securing the Sinulog will join the walk-through.

Around 600 personnel from the Cebu Police Provincial Office will also be deployed to the route of the Walk with Jesus in Cebu City starting at 2 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 5.

Police and government officials expect this year’s Sinulog activities to be witnessed by a number of people two years after the Covid-19 pandemic was declared.

The police earlier appealed to the public, especially those attending the activities, not to bring a backpack, as this is prohibited. (IRT, AYB / LMY)