February 1, 2023

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CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama is steadfast in his decision to hold the Sinulog Grand Parade 2023 at the South Reclamation Properties, even if Gov. Gwen Garcia threatened to withdraw all the contingents coming from the province if the event is held other than Cebu City Sports Center.

RCM Rommel Catabas Manlosa

Despite the heavy fire and being stubborn as he is, Rama announced Friday, that the Grand Parade will be (definitely) held at the SRP, withstanding criticisms and insults from the people, and that threat of the governor.

That is Political will.

Rama did not mind losing contingents, and P12 Million cash assistance from the Cebu Provincial Government to the Sinulog Foundation Inc. He stood firm and said his “decision is final.”

However, without the 10 contingents from the province, Cebu City government is freed from the P800,000 subsidy that was promised per contingent. The P8Million that should have been given to the contingents is now unburdened and can be spent for other SFI expenses.

I admired Rama for that. He did not succumb to pressure, especially from Gov. Gwen, who just flexed her supreme control over the municipalities and component cities of Cebu.

Rama stood firm in his words. Because to him, Garcia has no business on how he runs the activities of Cebu City, just as he does not interfere with the affairs of the province.

“Ensuring the safety of the contingents” is a weak reason. The governor is afraid that dancers from Cebu province might get hurt performing at the SRP. However, the Sinulog Grand Parade has experienced heavy rains since January falls on northwest monsoon months (Amihan). Soaking wet dancers performing is a common scenario.

What difference does it make if the main stage is at SRP or at CCSC? Won’t it rain if the Grand Parade is held at the usual carousel route? How could the city streets be safer for the participants and spectators than at the coastal roads of SRP?

The only difference I see in this situation is that the contingents’ movements and performance might be a little off since they are wary of the unfavourable and unfamiliar surroundings compared to the CCSC or Cebu City streets. I think what hurt Gov. Gwen’s ego was that Rama turned down her advice. She is used to – What Gwen wants, Gwen gets! She really wanted to offer a dance to the Sto. Niño, but she is not comfortable dancing at the SRP. Ergo, if she cannot dance, the contingents will not dance also!

To be honest, the Grand Parade is only the culmination of what the Cebu City government (through the Sinulog Foundation) has laid out for the week-long festivities. The icing on the cake so to speak.

From the Balik Sugbo Program, which the Cebu Province also benefited through its Suroy-Suroy sa Sugbo Program, the nightly activities, the revelries, the pageants, music festivals and concerts, and all Sinulog related activities, cultural or religious – defines who we are (Cebu). The Grand Parade makes everything end with a bang!

I am not defending Rama!

Because I too is disappointed that the Grand Parade will not be at the heart of the city. But why don’t we give this endeavor the benefit of the doubt. Let us wait and see what will happen on Sunday, then we judge. Let’s belt out our “I told you so’s.” Let’s scream our hearts out. Blame Rama if we get coughs and colds because he did not listen to “advice.”

Let’s be objective. Those photos and videos of continued and hurried horizontal works at the final performance area, the muddy surroundings we saw and read on social media, do not speak it all. Our concerns for the lack of shades for the spectators, public transportation, street lighting is being addressed to. However, if you are still worried, then do watch the parade at  SRP. Stay at home and be safe from the rains and muds.

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True, for many years, we were comfortable and enjoyed watching the Grand Parade on the carousel route that culminates at the CCSC. But before that, the Sinulog Grand Parade route in its early years was from the Capitol Grounds to Plaza Independencia. From there the routes changed three or four times before the finale was held at the CCSC. In all those changes, there were a lot of complaints, but not as wild and sarcastic as what we have this time.

If anything bad happens, (please, just do not pray for any accident to happen), let us hang or ask Mike Rama’s resignation, because he is too stubborn to heed our pleas. And maybe, just maybe, that would end his political career. Just saying.