Malilong: Reasons to celebrate

Frank Malilong

TODAY, two days before the Feast of Señor Sto. Niño, let’s talk about things that are uplifting to the human spirit. Happily for us, there are still triumphs to celebrate amid the swirl of human failures that have all but choked us.

Number one in the list is the decision of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella to abort the sale by the Sinulog Foundation of the exclusive broadcast rights to the Sinulog to a local television channel. The official version is that SFI and MyTV mutually agreed to rescind the contract but it is doubtful that any such agreement could have been reached had the mayor not forcefully intervened.

The exclusivity couldn’t have caused any real damage in terms of the right of the public to watch the Sinulog on television. While MyTV is indeed on cable television, viewing on free TV would still have been possible even if the sale pushed through because the two giant networks have secured permission from MyTV to air the the latter’s video on free TV.

But as I pointed out in this space yesterday what was objectionable was the very idea that broadcasting the Sinulog was being made an object of the commerce of men. That would have been the ultimate act of commercialization of an event that is embedded in our culture and tradition and so the issue rapidly became an emotional one.

Labella could have folded his arms and directed all criticisms to the Sinulog Foundation, whose idea it was to make money out of the TV coverage. But with only three days before the grand parade, the mayor took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and made it known very clearly to the parties that he would have none of exclusivity.

In so doing, the mayor displayed not only sensitivity to public opinion but more importantly his readiness to wade into the middle of a crisis even if it is not of his own making in order to preserve the public interest.

As for the SFI, I absolutely refuse to believe they were guilty of misconduct, as some netizens unfairly claim, in selling the broadcast rights. It was most likely poor judgment.

Two, Barangay Sto. Niño responded to criticism on this space by promptly removing its offending garbage truck from Legaspi St. so that Sto. Nińo devotees can now walk the street without holding their breath or covering their nose. Barangay Captain Lourdes “Lulu” Ramirez sought me out with her husband and predecessor Pancho during “The Gala: Celebrate Cebu” launching at the Waterfront Wednesday night to deliver the good news. She also explained that they were forced to park their garbage truck in front of the barangay hall because twice, the truck’s battery was stolen while parked elsewhere.

Thank you for prompt action, Kap Lulu.

Three, the United Kingdom and Cebu City will sign today a memorandum of understanding governing the UK’s Prosperity Fund Future Cities Programme in Cebu City. The MOU will be signed by the British deputy ambassador to the Philippines and Mayor Labella.

Four, the city’s tourism commission formally launched its Celebrate Cebu campaign with a gala presentation at the Pacific ballroom of the Waterfront Lahug Hotel the other night. The program aims to attract more visitors to Cebu. Tourism Commission Chairman Joy Pesquera deserves praise for the very excellent production that they staged, featuring the best in Cebuano food, music, dance and culture.