Wenceslao: Wrong move

Complaints are starting to pour in following the decision of the Cebu City Government to hold the Sinulog at the South Road Properties or SRP. As one who has witnessed the holding of the grand parade at the Abellana National School ground for years, let me warn those involved and those who want to view the festivities at the SRP to be ready for the worst.

My family and I stopped watching the Sinulog Grand Parade after I felt doing so had already become a hassle and extremely dangerous. The Abellana grandstand has been modernized, true, but it has gotten too crowded as the years went by. By “crowded” I mean not only the number of people occupying the grandstand but also the grandstand facilities, like the toilets. And if even going to those dirty toilets was a hassle because of the people blocking your way, how much more if a stampede occurs?

Going home was another problem. The crowd swells after the last contingent comes in because members of contingents stay inside waiting for the fireworks and the announcement of the winners. If you commute, rides are always a problem because of the number of people looking for ways out. If you own a vehicle, parking spaces and the traffic are major problems, what with people taking over the major streets.

Which brings me to the SRP. Minor activities were often held at the SRP before and the resulting traffic jams there were too much. Vehicles allowed to park near the site of the festivities made the only road to the south narrower still. Driving in such a setup eventually became a sacrifice, so was the effort to look for parking slots. That was when I thought staying home was the better option.

Maybe the Sinulog organizers thought that because the SRP already hosted political rallies, then it could already accommodate a Sinulog crowd. There is actually no comparison there. Every year, newspapers talk about bigger and bigger crowds gathering for the festivities. How can such crowds be accommodated in a place with only one major route and without public utilities servicing it? If holding the Sinulog at the Cebu City Sports Center was a nightmare, what would Sinulog be like at the SRP?

The joke now is that with the rains, the venue looks like a “lunangan (mud puddle).” But rain is only one of the problems. What if blistering heat returns? Where could people hide in a place with only very few buildings and trees? One will not only experience a nightmare but will be horrified by such a setup. I am sure people would rather spend time in nearby air conditioned malls. But what about going home?

Organizers are starting to talk of the Sinulog as a sacrifice for devotees. I would like to put them in their place. The Sinulog is only one of the festivities for the Sto. Niño fiesta. It is not the fiesta. A fiesta is mainly a religious activity which is based at the basilica. Where can one mine devotion in a mainly cultural undertaking? The devotees are at the basilica and are not at the SRP.