Sinulog street party, liquor ban should stay
It’s been five days since the Sinulog grand parade and presentation, and I have to say that last Sunday was a substantial improvement over last year’s celebration to say the least.
I was sort of nervous when I rode a habal-habal on the way back to base at past 10 p.m. last Saturday on Sinulog eve.
I was expecting this large, tightly packed crowd of revelers that would stretch from the Fuente Osmeña Circle all the way back to the Fooda Saversmart in Maxilom Avenue.
Instead, wonder of wonders, the streets leading up to Fuente Osmeña were remarkably clear of drunken, rowdy revelers, and it was mostly decongested.
True, there was some heavy traffic, and I saw people lining up the streets waiting for a cab or a passenger jeepney to board for the ride home.
Then I did see some teenagers who looked to be drunk running towards a speeding passenger jeepney some distance away from the Mabolo fire station and trying to board the vehicle but that’s about it.
Fuente Osmeña Circle had some people hanging out in some food outlets and looking sober.
It was quite the change from last year, when I rode a habal-habal and the driver had to take a longer route going to Osmeña Boulevard since Fuente Osmeña Circle was too crowded to enter.
Last Saturday, the habal-habal driver charged me P150, way above the regular P89 or P92 I had to pay for a taxi ride from the office to where I stayed in.
I had the choice of waiting for a taxi which based on past Sinulog celebrations would take me hours to flag down or take him up on his offer which I eventually did.
I was thankful that I did choose to ride a habal-habal since I got back earlier than usual, but I also wished that I paid less than what the driver charged if I had known that the road leading to Fuente Osmeña Circle would be bereft of late night party owls.
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Then it was Sinulog day and I had to take another habal-habal ride to the office which cost me P130 since it was hard to flag down taxis at past 8 a.m.
Work ended at past 9 p.m., and it was yet another habal-habal ride, with yet another driver charging me P150 anew.
Again, I anticipated a large crowd of revelers at the roads leading up to Fuente Osmeña Circle but instead, the habal-habal driver managed to speed through with little to no trouble at all.
What I did see were piles of garbage that lined up the streets and the revelers, clad in their Sinulog clothing and wearing facial paintings and tattoos walking past and looking seemingly dejected — as if they went to a party and ended up eating cake and nothing else to wash it down with.
And again, had I known that the ride back to base would be easy and trouble-free, I would have argued and haggled with the habal-habal driver to pay less than what he charged me for.
For both Sinulog eve and Sinulog day, I spent close to P600 on fare alone, and it had been like that for the past several years.
Thus, if only to clear the streets of unruly drunken revelers, I fully support the institutionalization of the street party and liquor ban at least within the Sinulog grand parade and presentation route.
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Speaking of habal-habal, if there is strong enough public support for local governments to regulate its operation, may they include in their guidelines a standard set of fares that would be equitable to both operators and their customers.
As I mentioned above, habal-habal drivers had a field day fetching passengers for a hefty sum during the Sinulog.
The drivers and operators would argue that the increased fare is due to the excise tax imposed on fuel prices plus the trouble they had to deal with in making their way past the crowded streets.
In effect, they’re about as creative and unmerciful when it comes to charging their customers as any other mass transport service whether public utility vehicles (PUVs) or transport network services (TNS) like Uber and Grab.
At the least, my Sinulog traffic nightmare ended for now, and I don’t have to ride a habal-habal unless when absolutely necessary which isn’t all that often.
I hope that would be the case for the rest of the year.
For now, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña plans to impose severe sanctions on motorists and PUVs that counterflow during traffic, and I join the others in asking other Metro Cebu officials to do the same.
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