practice for the spectacle always requires a mass gathering.


WHERE THEY ARE NOW. The doubts about the wisdom of organizing the Sinulog, the cultural and civic part of the Fiesta Senor 2021, have only solidified in specific and express opposition in recent days:

[1] Last Monday, January 4, the Regional Police Office, through Lt. Col. Glenn Mayam, announced that the police had recommended to the Regional Interagency Working Group (IATF) on Emerging Disease Management l ‘”ban on the holding of Sinulog”.

[2] On Wednesday, January 6, the Cebu Medical Society, through its president, Dr Minnie Montesclaros, opposed the Sinulog, citing the spike in active cases in Cebu City, fearing mass rallies to speed up transmission.

[3] On Thursday, January 7, the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) and the Steering Committee announced their decision to remove “all physical activity” from Sinulog 2021, including the “ritual showdown” between the dance groups of South Road Properties and the ” carousel of dancers “in specified streets.

“100% VIRTUAL.” Deputy Mayor Mike Rama, chairman of SFI and head of the steering committee this year, has to believe that Sinulog, after Thursday’s announcement, has gone 100% virtual and zero physical. Two days earlier, Tuesday, January 6 – when Rama insisted Sinulog was a “go” – his estimate was 99% virtual and a

percent physical.

Is physical activity completely eliminated? Not enough.

Mike Rama said the steering committee has already held around 70 meetings to plan and make the Sinulog “unorthodox and innovative” and, most importantly, as safe as possible against Covid-19.

The clash at the SRP (moved from the traditional site, Cebu City Sports Complex) would have been “a bubble”, no real audience, he said. No floats, “higantes” and stalls in the streets.

And yet the opposition persists.

GATHERINGS DURING REHEARSALS. SFI and Rama have not counted the mass gatherings required for the preparations for the cultural spectacle. They said the dance contingents no longer had to go to Cebu City, stay here and perform. Their performances will be videotaped in their respective locations and the “cassettes” sent to the Sinulog committee in Cebu City.

Lt. Col. Mayam, explaining the police opposition, said that “even though most of the activities are virtual, the performances of the dance contingents are still considered mass gatherings”.

Councilor Nina Mabatid (Barug) said the dancers will continue to congregate and interact physically during the practice. In a Facebook post, Mabatid said she was a devotee of Senyor Sto Nino, being born on the feast day, but that she “cannot afford to risk public health and safety:” unya na lang nang sayaw-sayaw oi “.

Councilor Alvin Dizon (BOPK) wanted the Sinulog to be postponed “until it is again safe for us to come together”. Reacting to VM Rama’s privileged speech during Wednesday’s session, Dizon said that “the context is now different as we are in a pandemic with another serious threat from a more infectious variant of Covid-19”.

QUESTION OF MONEY. Dizon wanted the city administration to focus more on developing a more comprehensive vaccine procurement and deployment plan. VM Rama, in a press conference Thursday, January 7, said the city council had earmarked 400 million pesos in the 2021 budget for vaccines and would add an additional budget of 100 million more pesos, not exactly the concerns specified by Dizon.

Mabatid was among the councilors who voted for the 25 million peso budget for this year’s Sinulog, 10 million pesos higher than 2020 spending but which could be further reduced due to “fewer and simpler” activities in the city. presentation of 2021.

MORE THAN SEMANTICS. Is the Sinulog canceled?

Not if there are still activities left and the budget for them remains. But if Sinulog opponents are successful, there must be no physical contact or mass gathering that current IATF and local government rules prohibit. As part of a modified general quarantine or MGCQ, the crowd is limited to 50% of the venue’s capacity. How would that apply to a workout or a recorded performance?

The revamped version of Sinulog still requires the dancers to come together for practice and filmed performance. And the police and doctors seem to oppose it.

So the IATF can ultimately decide the issue. Significantly, it starts with the regional IATF where the police recommendation went, the organization under which Councilor Joel Garganera, Deputy City Administrator of Cebu City, told the audience last Wednesday that a dancer from Sinulog had been quarantined after being struck by the coronavirus.

The quarrel over the word “canceled” involves more than semantics in the current dispute over Sinulog. Concretely, what would the prohibition of physical activities cover? Would this include mass gatherings of dancers and other performers in their respective communities before Sinulog Day?

The victim here is obviously the Sinulog, Cebu’s decades-old cultural event, certainly not just a “sayaw-sayaw”. But the activities of Sinulog which could be the Covid-19 super-spreader are the real target. According to the Cebu Medical Society, the balance is between tradition and public health. Where does the scale tilt more heavily?

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