Wenceslao: Sinulog

Bong O. Wenceslao
·3 min read

A virtual Sinulog? Vice Mayor Michael Rama, who was given the reins to the annual affair--a cultural activity--by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, recently floated the idea of a virtual Sinulog, which should include the crowd-drawer grand parade. How this will be done is an interesting question but if that is required by circumstance, then it should be realized. The Sinulog Foundation Inc. can provide us with the details later. We do not want, of course, for the event to become the reason for the spread of the coronavirus in Cebu.

But I like the idea of a purely religious feast of the Child Jesus better. That should mean letting go of the Sinulog festivities altogether. If we were able to close the cemeteries during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, why not forego a purely cultural event altogether? We all know what happened during the previous holding of the activity. Crowd control always became a mess.

The Sinulog is but a recent creation. It merely piggybacked on the fiesta that attracts thousands of devotees annually. In a way, we Cebuanos even lost our focus because of it. We even talk more about the Sinulog, calling the event Sinulog instead of the feast of the Sto. Niño. We spend time more on the streets than at the Basilica. Worse, many of us never go to the daily novena masses held before and during the fiesta. But we never miss the culminating activity of the Sinulog Grand Parade at the stage in front of the Abellana school grandstand.

A virtual religious activity can be better staged than the Sinulog festivities. That’s what I realized while attending virtual masses during the lockdown. By that I mean the daily novena masses at the Basilica. You only need even one camera in front of the priest. Of course, there are other religious activities attached to the fiesta but controlling the crowd can be done better than during the Sinulog Grand Parade.

I miss a solemn celebration of the fiesta. The crowd may be big like during the procession but the solemnity ensures that only few people will get out of line. I am not talking here of the major activities of the religious celebration, like the fluvial procession that can also be crowd control nightmares.

I say we can celebrate the fiesta better if we strictly follow health protocols like the wearing of masks and practicing physical distancing. With physical distancing, we can focus on the novena masses and on our prayers better. It would be like riding on public utility vehicles nowadays. We no longer experience overloading, which is good.

I grew up with fiestas that are less elaborate than the one in Cebu City, fiestas that have fewer activities topped by masses and every household serving food to visitors. In a way, that is what our fiestas are supposedly known for, the serving of food even to strangers. That is one thing missing in the fiesta celebrated in the city that we can reintroduce--with us still conscious of health protocols, of course.