OPENING the eyes of the younger generation to the rich history of the Sto. Niño’s arrival in Cebu is the aim of the 18th Balik Cebu, a tourism program for the overseas Cebuanos who return to experience the Sinulog festivities.
Former Central Visayas tourism head Patria Roa, a member of the Balik Cebu core group, said the program’s activities for this year are a prelude to the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the country in 2021.
The Balik Cebu program was first launched in 2002. Several activities were done to welcome Cebuanos who came home from abroad to pay homage to the Sto. Niño and join the Sinulog revelry.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) is ready to welcome domestic and foreign tourists, according to Mary Ann Dimabayao, MCIAA public affairs division manager.
Riza Macaibay, senior tourism operations officer in Central Visayas, said her office is expecting more Cebuanos who are now living in the United States to come home.
She said the Tourism Department is very active in promoting the Sinulog at international exhibitions as it is one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines.
The Balik Cebu booth is located on the first level of Ayala Center Cebu in Cebu City, near the concierge where locals and foreigners could score grandstand tickets and dinner. The booth opened on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, and it will close on Monday, Jan. 20, a day after the Sinulog Grand Parade.
In the same period, the Sto. Niño exhibit is open to the public at the mall’s fourth level. Novena masses will also be held at the fourth level on Jan. 9-17.
On Jan. 9-11, participants of the Cebu Marathon can claim their race packs at the mall’s activity center.
Sinulog dancers will entertain Ayala Center Cebu’s customers on Jan. 15-19.
The Balik Cebu program will hold a dinner for Cebuanos at the Terraces at 6 p.m. on Jan. 16. The following day, celebrities of Kapuso network GMA 7 will entertain mall goers at the Terraces.
At 9 p.m. on Jan. 19, after the Sinulog Grand Parade, a fireworks display will light the sky above the Cebu Business Park. (JOB)