SOMEONE should give Vice Mayor Michael Rama a pat on the back for his indomitable spirit to push for the secular aspect of the Sinulog festival.
“Sinulog brings people up, not a dead city during the Fiesta Señor. Without this, it will bring our faith, our history, our oneness down,” Rama said. To cancel the activity is tantamount to cancelling culture and history, he said. With the longest stint as chair of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI), he has become its champion. But waylaid by leadership squabble last year, he must be all agog this time to take vengeance, to reclaim the rein.
Except that we’re in peculiar times. Restraint, austerity and caution are the day’s rules.
The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 strongly opposes the holding of the cultural aspect of the fiesta, a potential Covid super-spreader. The police organization has only prepared for the scaled down church version of the Sinulog—most crucial of which are the novena masses from Jan. 8 to 16, the anxiety over which is informed by scenarios during the dawn masses last December. The other two activities are the thanksgiving mass and the “Hubo” ritual. The City’s Emergency Operations Center chair and Councilor Joel Garganera assured they have plotted out areas around the basilica to diffuse the crowd.
So how does the vice mayor envision his “bubble,” a one-day ritual show? He intends to cut down the usual parade participants to 70 percent. With that, it’s either he means cutting down the number of performers per contingent or scaling down the number of contingents. There were 26 contingents last year. We don’t know if the math would add up to a figure allowable under the IATF guideline.
Rama’s pandemic version this year excludes contingents from outside Cebu City as far as live performances at the planned spot at the South Road Properties is concerned. Each contingent will have its designated area in the venue, and will be sent home after the performance.
Lt. Col. Glenn Mayam, chief of PRO 7’s Regional Operation and Management Division, said they have yet to receive communication from the SFI on Rama’s planned activity, and the matter needed to be endorsed to the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases for approval. Considering the time left, Mayam fears it may not get the approval.
So is Rama’s Sinulog “bubble” bursting? He has a lot of explaining to do if only to allay public anxiety on what he envisions as his safe ritual show. But we’d rather err on the side of caution than being hyperbolic about cancelling a culture or history.
Cebu City Police Office Chief Josefino Ligan brings up the idea of moving the Sinulog to April, in time for the quincentennial celebration of Philippine Christianity.
Probably availability of vaccines by then and ample time for preparation, Ligan makes a lot of sense.