Catbalogan is Best in Costume; Daanbantayan, Best Festival Costume/Designer

By Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo and Morexette Marie Erram March 13,2018

Sinulog Festival Queen of Catbalogan (CDN ARCHIVE)

And the award goes to…

Simply put, Daanbantayan won Best Festival Costume/Designer award while Catbalogan won Best in Costume award for its festival queen, Mary Faith Voz Libres.

This was the explanation of Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Ricky Ballesteros to the confusion pertaining to the winners of the awards of the 2018 Sinulog Festival Queen under the festival costume category.

Ballesteros made the clarification after a Cebu Daily News online article that said Catbalogan won the Best in Costume generated a storm of mixed reactions and comments from netizens.

In CDN’s online story, a letter from Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) to Samar’s capital city of Catbalogan and signed by Jess dela Cruz, program director of Sinulog Festival 2018, explained that there were two categories pertaining to the contestants’ costumes: Best in Sinulog Festival Costume and Best in Costume Design.

The letter further explained that the Best in Sinulog Festival Costume (wearer) award was won by Catbalogan, while the Best in Costume Design (designer) award went to Daanbantayan.

Ballesteros, however, explained that they used two award names during the coronation night: Best Festival Costume/Designer (which is awarded to the designer) and Best in Costume (which is awarded to the wearer).

In a Skycable TV coverage, which can be accessed on YouTube, Ballesteros said production team projected two slides, Best Designer and Best Festival Costume, which made it appear that these are two separate awards.

“The winner in Best Festival Costume is Daanbantayan and the designer of the costume is Barry Luche,” he clarified.

However, Ballesteros said they failed to announce the Best in Costume (wearer) award, which was supposed to go to Catbalogan, during the January 19 coronation night.

Ballesteros said Libres won the Best in Costume award because of the way she carried the gown.

Libres, who finished as first runner-up in the competition, wore a futuristic-themed creation of silver and white colors designed by Lyndon Adolfo.
Because of the mistake, the claim stubs for the prize of Best in Costume for Catbalogan was also handed to Daanbantayan.

Sinulog Festival Queen of Daanbantayan (CDN ARCHIVE)

Please explain

Ador Hurtado, Catbalogan City’s tourism, culture, arts and information offices head, said they found out that they have an award last January 21 when they saw that the check for Best in Costume was under the name of their festival queen, Mary Faith Voz Libres.

Hurtado said they immediately raised the issue to Ballesteros and Sinulog 2018 Executive Committee Chairman Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak.

In a letter signed by Tumulak and addressed to Catbalogan City Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan, SFI invited Libres to attend the Photo and Film Awarding last February 11 where she will be awarded the “Best in Costume” award.

Hurtado, however, said they declined the invitation because they sought for a full explanation of the incident.

Tumulak, who also sits as Sinulog 2018 Executive Committee chairman, said there was no error in tabulation of the winner of the awards.

He said that the production team, headed by Victor Cuenco, failed to prepare the cue cards for the emcees to announce the winner of the Best in Costume award.

“The cue card to announce the winner (Best in Costume) was not handed to the (emcee). There was another criteria that wasn’t written on the cue card and therefore was not read,” explained Tumulak.


On March 12 (Monday), Dela Cruz himself went to Catbalogan to hand over the sash and trophy of the Best in Costume award to Libres. Apart from the P15,000 prize, another P10,000 in cash was handed to Libres.

Mayor Uy-Tan commended the efforts of the organizers to personally hand the recognition and prizes for their festival queen.

But she also suggested for the organizers to improve the management of the contest in the next festival.

Uy-Tan said they are still thinking of joining the Sinulog Festival next year despite the fiasco involving the Best in Costume award.

“As of now, yes, we’re still joining the Sinulog Festival but we’re contemplating on joining an international contest. We’re going to balance things by then,” she told reporters in a phone interview yesterday.

Tumulak described this recent fiasco as an “eye-opener” for the organizers.

He assured that SFI and the production team will properly coordinate to prevent a similar incident from happening in the next Sinulog Festival.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said the SFI board will meet next week to discuss the incident.

Osmeña admitted he only learned about the Sinulog Festival queen awarding fiasco last Monday.

Osmeña, however, said that most of the judges of Sinulog contests are not from Cebu, and suggested that there are no favoritism or biases.

“A very important element of our Sinulog (contests) is the integrity of the judging (process). Once it comes out that there is cheating involved, who will participate? But I know that usually, Cebu hardly wins and many of the judges are not from here,” Osmeña said.

In a separate interview, Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot said they do not want to make a big deal out of this issue.

He, however, said that he was disappointed about the incident and called on SFI to issue a public apology. /WITH A REPORT FROM REPORTER NESTLE SEMILLA

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