For days, Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, overall convener of this year’s Sinulog celebration to honor the Señor Sto. Niño or the Child Jesus, turned a deaf ear on pleas not to hold the street dancing.
His refusal to change his stance appeared to be a distorted show of devotion that bordered on the maniacal as he painted a bleak picture of a city and a people being brought to their knees by the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic if the highlight of the cultural aspect of the festivities didn’t push through on Jan. 17.
Rama would not have Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the highly infectious disease, rain on his parade and destroy the history that was imposed on Cebu and the rest of the archipelago by Spanish conquistadores.
Not on the year the country celebrates the arrival of Christianity on its shores almost 500 years ago.
Not under his watch.
So what transpired during the meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, that convinced Rama to tone down his religious and cultural fervor and bend to the will of local doctors and the Police Regional Office 7, which strongly opposed his plan, as they saw street dancing as a potential infection multiplier?
Judging by his rhetoric and his announcement on Thursday, Jan. 7, it was the recent increase in the number of Covid-19 cases that did it for him and not Cebu City Police Office Director Josefino Ligan’s decision not to deploy police personnel at the South Road Properties to secure contingents during the big day.
“Recognizing what is transpiring, which is really true enough, it’s a concern. We do not want to be an additional concern,” Rama said in an interview.
And so plans were given a tweak that would satisfy everybody.
Street dancing may have been scrapped this year, but for the 21 contingents vying in the Sinulog-based category and free interpretation, the show will go on.
Their performances will be recorded by a team from the Sinulog Foundation Inc. in their respective barangays and then shown online. A prize will even be given out to the contingent for being the “most disciplined.”
Rama’s decision has meant that police won’t be bothered by another logistical nightmare and can instead focus on securing the crowd attending the Sinulog novena masses, which started at the Basilica del Sto. Niño on Friday, Jan. 8.
In the end, despite all the rigmarole, common sense had prevailed. Or so it would seem.
The Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has just recommended the cancelation of all physical and virtual performance-based Sinulog Festival activities this year as these will still require participants to gather and interact during rehearsals and actual performance for the recordings.
At this point, Rama can only keep his fingers crossed that whoever is in charge will consider the importance of keeping the Cebuano faith, history and oneness up amid the ongoing health crisis.