Return of Sinulog Festival in Cebu City successful

CEBU CITY – The Sinulog Festival returned with a bang on Sunday, Jan. 15, as authorities declared its staging a big success despite some jittery moments days before the actual event.

THE Omega de Salonera Surigao del Norte performs during the Grand Parade of the Sinulog Festival 2023 on Sunday, Jan. 15, at the South Road Properties in Cebu City. (Cebu City PIO)

Based on the estimate of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, some 600,000 people watched the festival’s Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown at the South Road Properties (SRP).

“My heartfelt thanks to those who joined and helped us to make the Sinulog 2023 a big success. I could have not done it without you. Thank you also to my fellow workers at the city government and to my family for always being there for me,” Mayor Michael Rama said.

This year’s festival was participated in by 14 dancing contingents, eight ‘’higantes,’’ and six puppeteers. At least 40 floats gave the spectators an added attraction.

Only 14 contingents performed after 10 from Cebu province decided to back out three days before the festival. Gov. Gwen Garcia pulled out the province’s contingents due to safety concerns at the venue.

Garcia told Rama that they will only participate if the festival will be transferred to its usual venue which was the Cebu City Sports Center.

Garcia’s decision to back out came at the time when Metro Cebu was experiencing torrential rains, which caused some areas at the SRP to be muddy.

Photos of the venue’s muddy areas and contingents drenched in rain while doing their rehearsals circulated online. Garcia announced her decision to back out after seeing the photos.

On the day of the activity, there was no rain and the feared muddy venue did not exist.

There were spectators and performers at the Grand Parade route who had to be attended to by medical personnel after passing out due to the searing heat of the Sun.

Each spectator had to pay P500 to watch the performances at the grandstand. The stage where the contingents performed also had a giant LED monitor.

Police said there were no reported untoward incidents during the entire duration of the event at the SRP. Police, however, arrested 13 suspected pickpockets.

Police Regional Office 7 director Brig. Gen. Jerry Bearis said the event was peaceful and orderly overall despite the pickpocket incidents which he said was normal during big activities.

About 6,000 personnel from different law enforcement agencies, such as the Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, Air Force, Cebu City Traffic Office, and Cebu City Risk Reduction and Management Office were deployed to secure the festival.

“The event was successful because of the concerted effort of those government agencies, private sector, and other stakeholders. And, of course, the public, the devotees also cooperated. I’m very thankful,” said Bearis.

About 20 closed closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were installed on the parade route.

Lt. Col. Gerard Pelare, spokesperson of PRO-7, said the PRO-7 employed an Israeli-inspired security system and technology in monitoring the Sinulog.

“The use of drones helps in closely monitoring the events and activities at SRP and other places of convergence. Complementing the actual personnel security on the ground, PRO 7 and its security allies also utilize highly sophisticated technology in ensuring a safe and secured Sinulog 2023,” said Perale.

Emerging as the biggest winners were the Inayawan Talent Guild and Cultural Troupe and Omega de Salonera Surigao del Norte, which won the Ritual Showdown Sinulog-based category and Ritual Showdown free interpretation category, respectively. Inayawan Talent Guild and Cultural Troupe was also bagged the Sinulog-based Best in Musicality award.

Omega de Salonera Surigao del Norte was also a double-champion as it also topped the Grand Parade’s Street Dance category.

ABC Friendship won the Float Category while Baruc Siblings and Friends topped the Higantes Category. The Puppeteers Category was won by Niño Ruben Mateo.

The multi-titled Lumad Basakanon brought home the Best in Musicality award in the free interpretation category.