The making of a grand festival

By: Izobelle T. Pulgo January 09,2017 - 10:38 PM

 The Man Behind. Junjet Primor is the artistic director of the 2017 Search for the Sinulog Festival Queen as well as the Best Dance Crew segment of the Sinulog. He also lends an artistic hand to the Sinulog Grand Finale, in coordination with Victor Cuenco, the brain behind the finale numbers.

The Man Behind. Junjet Primor is the artistic director of the 2017 Search for the Sinulog Festival Queen as well as the Best Dance Crew segment of the Sinulog. He also lends an artistic hand to the Sinulog Grand Finale, in coordination with Victor Cuenco, the brain behind the finale numbers.

In a country known throughout the world for its faith and cultural aesthetics, it is only fitting for each year to open with a grand festival that is as stunning and as vibrant as Cebu’s very own Sinulog.

A weeklong event, the feast culminates with a grand parade that showcases different contingents from all over the country dancing to the Sinulog beat.

For this year, the grand parade will be on January 15, with an expected 24 contingents decked in colorful costumes participating in a street dancing competition that leads up to a ritual showdown at the Cebu City Sports Center.

The 2017 Sinulog Festival Queen

The search for the annual Sinulog festival queen is one of the highlights of the celebration.

It is a title so distinctly held by the lead dancer of a participating contingent who will best embody beauty, grace, and devotion to the Sr. Sto. Niño, set against colorful dances and costumes.

Junjet Primor Jr., artistic director of the Search for the Sinulog Festival Queen 2017, said that this year, 13 candidates will vie for the title.

According Primor, the Festival Queen represents the Sinulog Festival as a whole, a modern-day Queen Juana who can be emulated by young ladies.

“She should be very, very graceful because she’ll be called the modern-day Queen Juana because as we know, during that time, when the image of Sr. Sto. Niño was presented to her, out of joy, she danced along the village to thank Magellan for the gift. So it all started the Sinulog dance by Queen Juana herself,” Primor said.

Aside from her grace, Primor said that the festival queen must also know how to carry well the image of the Sto. Niño, a distinct feature in every Sinulog dance contingent.

“Of course, she should also know how to carry the Sr. Sto. Niño very well, not just the Sto. Niño but it should be with faith and love because Sto. Niño is Jesus Christ. She could also represent very well the Sinulog Festival as a whole, to be emulated by young ladies,” Primor explained.

The festival queen candidates who will vie for this year’s title are Ivy Tapic of the municipality of Asturias, Ceydney Go Basalo of Barangay Labangon, Cristal Jane Lacida of Talisay City, Angelyn Quimbo Gawayen of Tangub City, Brichen Mae Mongaya of Barangay Pahina Central, Shyna Daclan of Barangay Sambag 1, Luzenne Sanchez Jones of Barangay San Nicholas Proper, Nicole Bandate of Barangay Guadalupe, Marla Pino Alforque of Carcar City, Anette Ybarita of Barangay Sapang Dako, Samar Mohamed Bautista Bandoukji of Catbalogan City, Lara Therese Carabuena Delica of the municipality of Tuburan, and Marielle Nazarene Densing Cortes of Lanao del Norte.

According to Primor, the 2017 Festival Queen will have a new crown this year specially made by renowned Cebuano designer, Cary Santiago, while the opening production outfits are by Rey Humberto Villegas.

The candidates’ hair and makeup will be done by the Make-Up Artists Club of Cebu headed by Jonas Borces while the candidate’s official footwear will be provided by Shandar Shoes.

With a runway show scheduled on January 12 at SM Northwing and a coronation night set on January 13 at the Cebu City Sports Center, Primor said that spectators can look forward to seeing excerpts of the different contingents’ presentation during the search.

Primor also promised “eye-popping festival queen costumes”, which, he said, were intricately conceptualized and created by local designers.

“The costume is one of the highlights people look forward to because this is where they can see really, really beautiful costumes that represent the identity of the festival or the contingent that they are representing,” he said.

Like cherry on top of an already impressive array of beauties, Primor said the candidates will be dancing with their back-up dancers and props-men in an exciting two-minute presentation.

Hundreds of devotees are unmindful of the rain as they attend an afternoon Mass at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA).

Hundreds of devotees are unmindful of the rain as they attend an afternoon Mass at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA).

“La Fiesta Cebuana”

For this year’s Sinulog grand finale on Sunday, Primor said that organizers are adopting a Latin-inspired production number.

Dubbed “La Fiesta Cebuana”, this year’s concept was borne out of Cebu’s tag as the “Island Festival” of the country, with its different towns and cities having their “own unique and exciting colorful festivals”.

“Of course, the mother of all festivals here in Cebu is the Sinulog so we are putting a lot of the island beat, we are combining the different festival beats, putting it into one production and we call that ‘La Fiesta Cebuana’,” Primor explained.

In keeping with the theme, Primor said Latin beats and dance forms such as Samba and Cha-cha will be incorporated into the grand finale, all set against a uniquely Cebuano backdrop.

“There’s always the Cebuano flavor so expect a lot of colorful costumes, live instrumentation, and we have also the full force of the Cebu City Dance Sports team and the local dance troupes here in Cebu,” he said.

“We have also the Fire Attraction Flow Circle champions so expect a very colorful, world-class finale,” the artistic director said.

Although the finale is Latin-inspired, organizers have opted for a more conservative costume design in deference to Sinulog being a religious festivity.

Cebuano director Victor Cuenco is the brain behind the finale number.

The technicalities

As this year’s grand parade is expected to end, earlier than usual, at 5 p.m. Primor believes that the change will not affect artistic elements of the grand finale, which usually makes use of the backdrop of darkness to accentuate the presentation.

Primor explained that since the nights are still longer than the days, one does not have to wait too long for dusk to come, at which time, the 25-minute grand finale would start.

“If you’ve noticed, at 5 p.m. or 5:30, it’s dark already so we’ll just wait for dusk to add on special effects for our lighting,” he said.

LED lights and walls will be used at the grand stage during the day before switching to Par 64 lights for the evening’s grand finale.

Sto. Niño visits jail. (CDN PHOTO/NESTLE SEMILLA)

Sto. Niño visits jail. (CDN PHOTO/NESTLE SEMILLA)

The ritual showdown noon break

In lieu of the “Best of Cebu” segment during the 12 noon to 1 o’clock break, the “Best Dance Crew” Championship will be held to be incorporated with a presentation by Sinulog Idol winners.

“We expect a lot of cheers from the young generation because it’s dance crew, it’s hip-hop, it’s modern dance,” he said.

“So after seeing a lot of free interpretation and Sinulog-based contingents starting 9 o’clock to 12, we will have short twist in terms of dance form, from the very rural and Christian FI (free interpretation), we now go to the young generation and that’s hip-hop and modern dance,” added Primor.

Above all else, Sinulog is a religious celebration

Together with Primor in making the whole Sinulog production come to life are Sinulog Foundation Inc. executive director, Ricky Ballesteros and Sinulog Festival project chair, Dolly Suzara.

Organizers of the festival, like Primor, are praying for the success of the event while they urge people to never forget the purpose of the celebration.

“Though we are celebrating a world-class festival, we should not forget what the purpose of our celebration and that is our very own, Sr. Sto. Niño. He is the center of our celebration. We should not forget our faith. The street dances and the grand parade is just a bonus,” Primor said.

Primor urges everyone to strive to complete the Sto. Niño Novena Masses for 9 days and attend the processions if they can.

“Church first, go to mass, hear novenas, then after that, it will be a very good feeling to celebrate on Sunday when you know that you have honored our beloved Sto. Niño first,” he said.

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TAGS: 2017, Aesthetics, CCSC, Cebu CIty Sports Center, cultural, culture, festival, Festival Queen, Juana, mardi gras, Sinulog Festival, Sr. Sto. Nino

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