Sinulog 2015 still draws over 1 millon spectators
LEYTE, PLACER WIN
Clear skies and crowds that reached over one million yesterday ensured that the Sinulog Festival was a success.
Papal visit activities in Manila didn’t dampen the Cebuanos’ merry-making to celebrate the annual feast of the Sto. Niño and the Sinulog’s 35th year anniversary.
Abuyog municipality in Leyte made a triumphant comeback in the Sinulog grand parade six years after their last win.
The town’s Tribu Buyoganon with their choreography of dancing bees won first place in the Free Interpretation category.
The contingent of Placer, Masbate aced their second straight year as champions in the Sinulog-based category.
For each out-of-town entry, a trophy and P1 million cash prize will be given in today’s award rites at the Cebu City Sports Center where a command performance will give spectators a second chance to view the best Sinulog entries of the festival.
Children in orange and black bee costumes emerging from honeycombs featured the Abuyog town’s Buyogan Festival.
A contest judge said the balance of dancing, stage sets and props made them stand out among 20 entries.
For Placer, the Mindanao town presented themes of a bountiful sugarcane harvest in “ Hacienda Placer” with choreography that followed the traditional beat and dance steps of the sinulog.
Cebuanos looking for their hometown favorite, the Lumad Basakanon, were happy to see them defend their crown in the Street Dancing category which comes with a P1 million cash prize.
The Lumad Basakanon was “consistent in energy” in all seven stations along the day-long parade where judges were observing, said judge Lordinio Vergara of Philippine Normal University and dance committee secretary of the National Commission for Culture and Arts.
The Basakanons who celebrated their 25th year impressed the crowd with their swift and precise body movements as they formed human waves.
More than a million people occupied the 6.1 kilometer carousel route of the Sinulog grand parade.
“This is a bigger crowd than last year but the celebration remained very peaceful,” said Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak.
He said spectators were estimated to have reached 800,00 as of 2:20 p.m. It ballooned to 1.6 million by 6 p.m, an hour before Cebu City Sports Center grandstand gates were opened to the public for the fireworks display.
“It was very smooth. So far, in terms of flow inside the sports center, the crowd control inside and the performances, this is the best Sinulog. We didn’t have as much problems, I wasn’t stressed. We were all helping each other, the police, city government, church,” said Ricky Ballesteros, Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive driector.
At a 2 p.m. press conference, Sinulog overall chairman Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he was thankful for the good weather.
“Amazing and miraculous ang atong weather because it’s sunny, very well-attuned to our festivity,” he told reporters.
Not a drop of rain fell to disturb the grand parade ,despite weather forecasts of morning showers due to typhoon Amang, which has left the region.
Other estimates by the police placed the crowd along the parade route at 2.5 million.
The 15,000-capacity sports center was packed.
Three LED screen were put up on stage. During lull moments of the grand parade, it was played in full audio and played in mute during performance.
There were 134 entries in the grand parade, with 44 signed up for the dance competition: Sinulog Based (SB) – 21 and the Free Interpretation (FI) category – 23. There were 40 floats, 33 “higante” and 17 puppeteers.
The number of entries increased from last year, which partly explained why the main program at the sports center finished past 9 p.m. instead of the usual 7 p.m.
The street dancing competition and parade went on for about nine hours as contingents performed along the carousel route passing by P. Del Rosario Street, the New Imus road, General Maxilom Avenue, the Fuente Osmeña Circle, Osmena Boulevard and the Cebu City Sports Center where the grandstand stage is located.
The Sinulog route was closed to vehicular traffic as early as 5 a.m. to allow participants to already convene on their designated areas.
IMITATE A CHILD
An 8 a.m. Mass was held before the parade started.
In his homily, Msgr. Roberto Alesna urged Cebuanos to have the heart of a child. The parade coincides with the Feast of the Sto. Niño celebrated by the Catholic church in the Philippines.
“Jesus invites us to follow the humility and trusting love of a child,” he said.
Unlike the adults, Alesna said, children do not have wrinkles from too much worrying out of lack of faith and trust in God.
“The faith of a child teaches us the kind of faith that God is expecting of us,” he said.
Mayor Rama then went on stage at 9:15 a.m. and declared the Sinulog grand parade open. He was accompanied by Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale and Vice Mayor Edgar Labella.
“This is our Sinulog,” Rama told the grandstand crowd.
“Sinulog is not just (the effort of ) the city government but the cooperation, collaboration of many and that includes the province, and all the component cities and out-of-town contingents,” he added.
Three guest contingents were the first to perform, first department heads of Cebu City hall in yellow polo shirts and black pants followed by a joint City Hall and Capitol employees.
Former Cebu governor Gwen Garcia led the Sandiego Dance Company. Then the floor was open for 41 competing dance contingents.
The day culminated with a grand finale of 1,000 dancers on staged depicting milestones of Cebu history, highlighting the “Kaplag” or finding of the image of the Sto. Niño in a burning house by a returning expedition of Spanish forces in 1565.
Six Cebuana queens or Reyna nga Aliwan from 2009 to 2014 wearing red gowns danced with Sto. Niño icons in their arms.
A fireworks display past 9 p.m. closed the whole-day event.
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