By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News | 01/16/2013 3:58 PM
|Sinulog Festival in Cebu. Photo by Mikhail Arrogante|
CEBU, Philippines – Senatorial bets and local officials alike were warned by Sinulog organizers against campaigning during the 3-day religious festival that will be attended by at least 4 million devotees of the Sto. Niño, according to the Sinulog Foundation Incorporated (SFI).
The foundation's executive director, Ricky Ballesteros, said their security personnel will confiscate any leaflets, banners, tarpaulins or any other campaign materials that will be dished out to the public during the Sinulog Festival.
"They must behave also, it’s a simple rule to follow," he said.
At least 10,000 individuals will be deployed as security personnel during the 3-day event, which comprises forces from the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and barangay marshals.
"’Pag hindi nila ma-follow, bahala na ang electorate sa kanila," Ballesteros said.
He added that handshaking among the devotees should also be avoided by politicians as it seemingly depicts campaigning by itself.
The organizers have agreed that politicians will not be acknowledged during the programs except for the mayor of Cebu City, who is the host of the event, and President Aquino, who is expected to grace the event on Sunday.
"Only one person can deliver a speech, it’s the mayor of Cebu City" Ballesteros said.
Preparing for Sinulog
The streets of Cebu City are now filled with colorful flaglets or “banderitas”, depicting a massive fiesta atmosphere that is about to unfold in the next few days.
Competitors for the Sinulog Dance have started to arrive, while some have been practicing at the Cebu Sports Complex, complete with colorful costumes and props.
With this year’s theme of "One Beat, One Dance, One Vision", at least 45 dance groups from all over the country will vie for the title of the best Sinulog Performance with a grand prize of P1 million.
Both local and international tourists have also started flocking to the Basilica.
One tourist, Joy Aligno, is from Manila and flew to Cebu for the Sinulog to fulfill her yearly devotion to the Sto. Niño.
Prentice Postanes also flew to Cebu from Bohol, and said it has been their family’s tradition to join the parades for the Holy Child.
Anna Marie Arcenas and Christian Rojas, meanwhile, said aside from the Sto. Niño, their peers who came along with them wanted to experience one of the largest, if not the biggest, festival in the country.
Highlights of the 33-year-old Sinulog Festival will start Friday afternoon with the Sinulog Dance Crew Finals and Sinulog Festival Queen at the Cebu City Sports Center.
On Saturday morning, the annual event will kick off with a Fluvial Procession of the Miraculous image of the Sto. Niño in the waters of Cebu. In the afternoon, the historic Sinulog Procession of the image will begin at 2 p.m. starting from the Basilica and back after at least 5 hours of procession on a 6.1 kilometer route around the city.
The organizers estimate that around 4 million people will join the process in veneration of the historical image that Ferdinand Magellan gave to Queen Juana in the 1500's.
In the evening of the same day, a fireworks competition will be held in SM Cebu and a Kasadya Nite Mardi Gras at Ayala Center.
On Sunday, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma will hold a pontifical mass at the Basilica at 6 a.m. to be followed by another Holy Mass at the Cebu Sports Center at 8 a.m.
The Sinulog Grand Parade Carousel will kick off at 9 a.m. and will last until 7 p.m. It will be followed by a Grand Finale and Grand Fireworks to cap the event.
Awarding of the winning contingents who participated in the carousel will be on Monday afternoon.
Ballesteros said all hotels, pension houses, and even motels are fully booked until Monday. Airline tickets are all sold out.
Heavy vehicular traffic is also expected all throughout the city because some major thoroughfares will be closed down due to the activities.
It will be car-less days in Cebu, said Ballesteros.
With the erratic weather being experienced in the province, the organizers are advising tourists to carry with them an all weather gear, anticipating sunny but also rainy weather all throughout the festivities.
Twenty-five medical teams of the Department of Health will also be stationed at the route of the procession which will provide first aid treatments and medicines while ambulances will also be on standby to bring patients to the hospital.