City Council cuts budget for Sinulog 2021 to P25M

·4 min read

THE Cebu City Council has allotted P25 million, P10 million lower than the usual allocation, for the upcoming Sinulog Festival under the approved 2021 annual budget, Vice Mayor Michael Rama said Wednesday, December 30, 2020.

The amount is enough considering there will be fewer contingents, and cash prizes and subsidies to the participants will be reduced, said Jocelyn Pesquera, chair of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive committee.

She did not specify the amounts.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has until today, December 31, to sign the budget, Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia said.

SFI executive director Elmer "Jojo" Labella, brother of the mayor, said only 12 contingents have registered or expressed interest in participating in the Sinulog showdown to be held at the South Road Properties (SRP) on January 17, 2021.

The number is less than half of the 31 contingents in 2020.

Restrictions

Pesquera said each contingent will have only 50 percent of its usual number of participants. Only hand props will be allowed. Set props will be prohibited this time.

"It will justify the reduced prizes and reduced financial assistance," Pesquera said in a phone interview with the media.

SFI executive director Labella also said only contingents coming from Cebu will be joining the competition.

Out-of-town and out-of-country contingents will perform only as an offering. Their number will be limited to 10.

The showdown will be off-limits to the public to prevent transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), but will be broadcast in real time.

Since there will be no audience at the venue, Labella said there will be no income from ticket sales, normally a big contributor to festival revenues.

He said the team in charge of marketing has been trying to get sponsorships for SFI's digital platforms.

Health protocols

Rama, who was appointed as overseer for Sinulog 2021 after he stepped down as SFI chairman in October 2019, said all documentary requirements for the holding of the festival have been "99 percent signed."

"Everything is already in place," he said.

He said, however, that they will need more volunteers who will serve as health protocol marshals to enforce the minimum public health standards among those who will be at the SRP.

"Definitely, we should be more observant so we will not be means of (coronavirus) transmission," said Rama.

The government has required all citizens to wear face masks and face shields in all public areas, and to observe physical distancing of at least one meter from each other.

Previous budget

The Cebu City Government had been allocating P35 million for Sinulog under its City-sponsored activities account.

In 2020, a total of 31 contingents for the Sinulog-based and free interpretation categories joined the Grand Parade. Seven were from Cebu Province, 16 from Cebu City and eight were out-of-town groups.

Local contingents, or those coming from Cebu, received P400,000 in cash subsidy, while out-of-town groups received P600,000 each.

The winners in the street dancing competition under the free interpretation and Sinulog-based categories took home P1 million each.

Those in second place received P700,000 each while the third place winners got P500,000 each.

Other cash prizes were P300,000, P200,000, P150,000 and P100,000 for those in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively.

Activities

The SFI posted on its Facebook page on Dec. 29 the list of activities for Sinulog 2021.

The festival will kick off on Jan. 3 with a "Fun Ride" Virtual Bike Challenge, followed by the Virtual Sinulog Workshops on Jan. 4, 5 and 6.

There will be a holy mass at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño for the opening salvo rewind on Jan. 8; rewind of the performance of the contingents in the Sinulog sa Lalawigan and Sinulog sa Dakbayan on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10, respectively; performance of the Sinulog Queen rewind on Jan. 10; Sinulog Idol 2021 on Jan. 14; and Festival Queen Grand Showdown at SM Seaside City open space parking on Jan. 15.

There will be strictly no audience in these activities.

Among the contests that were retained are the photo contest, Sinulog short film festival and video documentary contest.

Labella said SRP will be temporarily closed for the Grand Parade and Grand Ritual Showdown on Jan. 17.

Cebu City will remain under modified general community quarantine in January. Mass gatherings will be allowed only for up to 50 percent of a venue's capacity. (JJL)