LANAO del Norte, one of eight out-of-town contingents in the Sinulog 2013 , will highlight its Sarimanok Festival with the theme “For Peace and Unity in Mindanao” and the blending of different cultures.
The contingent is led by Cebuano choreographer Mark Barry Luche, who formerly trained dancers of Masbate province through their winning streak of four years of Sinulog awards.
The 400-member delegation from the “Land of Beauty and Bounty”, arrived this week in Cebu to compete in the Free Interpretation category.
Although their governor is a Muslim, they are well supported by the province with an P8 million budget for food, costumes, props, travel and other needs for the Sto. Nino-based festival, said local coordinator, Janrey Compacion.
“For me, teaching dancers in different festivals is a passion,” Luche told Cebu Daily News.
“I spent four years with Masbate. For the past few years, after winning many championships, di ko ka move out. Last year, nag second place ako, that was a good exit.”
Lanao del Norte bagged several awards since it started joining the Sinulog in Cebu five years ago. It missed a trophy only last year.
The delegation includes 100 dancers, 180 props men and local government personnel of the municipality of Culambogan.
Golden Cowrie Restaurant is catering their meals for their entire stay in Cebu. Delegates were given vitamins and their health is carefully monitored.
Many of the dancers are first timers aged 13 to 16.
Trainers were carefully selected and practice sessions lasted 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., sometimes going up to 11 p.m.
Luche trained Leyte’s contingent for two months before going home to Daanbantayan, Cebu when his mother, who suffered hypertension, died last Dec. 22.
Fortunately, it was vacation time for students and he was able to go home immediately.
“Every Sinulog, my mother would be there to meet me. This year, I’m sad because she won’t be there, ” Luche said.
“Yes, my concentration is a bit affected. But I tell myself I have to be strong for my mother and for the Sto. Nino.”
Luche said he focuses on teaching the Lanao del Norte dancers and propsmen to be the best they can be, in order to honor the memory of his mother. He said he still wanted to make her proud of him.