Thousands expected as Cebuanos celebrate Sinulog Festival Sunday

CEBU CITY -- After a two-year hiatus, the Sinulog Festival is officially back on Sunday, Jan. 15.

Thousands of Cebuanos, foreign and out-of-town visitors are expected to flock to the ‘Queen City of the South’ as the Sinulog returns after it was cancelled in 2021 and 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cebu City Councilor Dondon Hontiveros (right) and officials from Angkas led by its CEO George Royeca (3rd from left) hand the Miss Angkas Choice Award to Kiara Liane Wellington, who was also crowned as Sinulog Festival Queen on Friday night at the Cebu City Sports Center. The beauty pageant is one of the highlights of this year’s Sinulog Festival, which will take place Sunday, Jan. 15, at the South Road Properties, Cebu City. (Photo via Calvin D. Cordova)

The Sinulog Grand Parade and the Ritual Showdown will be held at the South Road Properties (SRP) and not from the usual Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), which hosted the festival for the past several years.

This year’s Sinulog became somewhat controversial after the city government decided to transfer it to SRP.

Works at the venue that includes a bleacher and stage, was still ongoing as of Saturday, Jan. 14, but an official of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) said the venue is already 90 percent complete less than a day before the festival.

Manila Bulletin visited the venue past noon Saturday wherein some contingents were busy practicing their performance while workers put on the finishing touches of the venue.

Due to safety concerns, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia pulled out the 10 contingents from the province.

Garcia told Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama that the province’s contingents will only join if the event is held at the CCSC.

Rama, however, didn’t budge and insisted that the SRP will be the festival’s venue.

Garcia was supposed to have her 14th Sinulog performance as her way of paying homage to the Santo Niño.

The governor’s decision to back out came after photos circulated online showing the muddy areas of the venue and some participants who were at the time practicing drenched in rain due to lack of facilities in the area.

With Cebu Province pulling out, there will only be 18 participating contingents, said Jojo Labella, executive director of SFI.

Labella added there will also be 40 floats and some celebrities who will spice up the festivity.

One of the festival’s major sponsors assured that transportation will not be a problem for those who would go to SRP to watch the festival.

George Royeca, CEO of Angkas, said the motorcycle ride-hailing firm will be ferrying Sinulog revelers for free.

“All Cebuanos go to the festival. We will have Angkas. We will start early in the morning. This is absolutely for free. It’s a loop...from the booking station to the SRP and then from SRP, out to another area of your destination,” said Royeca.

Royeca said hundreds of Angkas riders will be available until the conclusion of the activities in SRP.