AT 2 a.m., people were still awake at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
Dance troupes took turns rehearsing on stage and on the track and field, all aiming to get the judges’ best scores.
Masbate province sent two contingents as defending champion of the Sinulog-based category and 2nd placer for the Free Interpretation Category.
When they cry “Pit Señor!” and dance, they also implore the Sto. Niño for blessings for a peaceful election and a “better Masbate” to counter the reputation of their province as a tough place where guns, goons and bloody elections.
This year, harvest and agriculture is the theme for Kultura Placerno of Placer town.
There’s pressure to do well. (Their choreographer for five years, Cebuano Mark Barry Luche, has moved on to join the contingent of Lanao del Norte.)
But they’re ready for any outcome, said coordinator Ian Seachon Sepulveda.
“We can’t be on top forever. That’s life,” he said.
Kultura Placereno will perform in the Sinulog-based category with a total of 320 delegates – 100 dancers, 180 propsmen, 30 carpenters, 20 chaperone teachers and a medical team.
Sepulveda said he prepared the delegates physically and mentally, telling them to expect a 6-kilometer parade and not a walk in the park because their work is being offered to the Sto. Niño.
Masbate has won the Sinulog competition several times, and has a budget much bigger than the P1 million grand prize.
Another contingent, Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer town will use an ocean theme, but no details were revealed to the media just yet.
“All the scenes are new and worth waiting for. None of this was seen last year. It will be a surprise,” said choreographer Frenil Palang.
The dancers are 18 to 25 years old are students, workers and some are out-of-school-youth. Himag-ulaw is a dance ritual of rural farmers before setting out to the fields so they could have a good harvest.
The Masbate contingent arrived in Cebu over the weekend and are staying at the Cebu City Central School.
In the day, while dancers catch some sleep, props men are busy putting on final touches on giant Sto. Nino faces and backdrop flowers.
By late afternoon, dancers are on the track and field, practicing choreographer and blocking.