WILL the audience in the Sinulog grandstand – and on the street – welcome the sinulog dancing of suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia in today’s grand parade?
Ricky Ballesteros, executive director of the Sinulog Foundation Inc., appealed for good manners and courtesy if Garcia actually shows up.
“I’d like to appeal to the public to show the respect due her (Garcia) as the governor and as a woman,” he told Cebu Daily News amid fears that she may be heckled or booed by partisans in the crowd who disapprove of Garcia’s defiance of the order of the Office of the President suspending her for six months in an administrative case for grave abuse of authority.
Ballesteros said he was notified by Garcia’s camp yesterday that she would be dancing with the Rosquillos Festival contingent of Liloan town, which won the Pasigarbo festival competition of the province last year.
“Her choreographers came to my office this morning,” he said, and an advance party has been checking the main stage and other conditions of the Cebu City Sports Center where over 40 contingents will enter for their main performances until 7 p.m.
Ballesteros said Garcia would be dancing with the municipal contingent, and not as head of the Cebu province contingent.
In order of appearance, this places her towards the end of the parade lineup with other municipalities. The last entries of the parade are the much awaited performances of out-of-town contingents like Masbate, Leyte and Lanao del Norte.
This means by the time the Rosquillos Festival contingent gets on stage, it will be late afternoon or dusk.
Ballesteros, in an interview earlier this week, was asked by CDN what kind of audience reaction he anticipated with Garcia dancing with the Sto. Niño in her arms before over 12,000 spectators in the sports center, and whether she risked being embarrassed in public.
But he said “I think the Cebuanos are mature as an audience” and that it wouldn’t come to that.
Ballesteros and SFI organizers visited Garcia in her Capitol office the other week inviting her to continue her tradition of dancing on stage in the festival’s grand finale.
One assurance that the audience would be reminded to show courteous, if not welcoming response, is the role of program emcee broadcaster Sam Costanilla, a Capitol consultant and supporter of Garcia.
Liloan’s festival highlights the ring-shaped cookies called “rosquillos” which is a trademark pasalubong from the town produced by Titay’s bakery owned by the family of Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco, son-in-law of the governor.
The festival dancers use an American-era theme with dramatic red and black tuxedos. One of the contingent’s choreographer is Victor Cuenco.
For over a week, Garcia has kept the media and the public guessing about her expressed desire to perform her “last dance” as governor in the Sinulog, after eight years of leading the province’s contingent in the grand finale.
On Saturday, she said “I am ready to face all risks even if they will embarrass me or throw anything at me…. My devotion to the Sto. Niño should take precedence over everything.”
Worst case scenarios like this are the subject of a text message and on line talk circulating that the Sinulog dance would be Garcia’s “graceful exit” after she vowed not to leave the Capitol “over my dead body” when she started a stay-in protest on Dec. 19, 2012.
The speculation goes that she has to get out of the Capitol “sooner than later because she is losing in the campaign game” and that she “will be humiliated by their own planted players and will be pelted with eggs and rotten tomatoes” and later blame the rude conduct on the Liberal Party or collapse during the dance and head straight to the hospital for confinement, benefiting from a public image as a martyr.
Garcia, in other interviews, scoffed at the speculation as a “Pontius Pilate” act of washing one’s hands of responsibility before the deed is done.
At the Capitol, Garcia did not go out her office the entire day yesterday as reporters waited outside for details of her performance.
A one-foot tall Sto. Niño image was brought inside but a staff member said he owned the icon. Sugbo TV and Sugbo News staffers who earlier resigned from their jobs after Garcia’s suspension retrieved their IDs from one of their heads.
Vice President Jejomar Binay has confirmed his attendance at the Sinulog festivity today.
He will be at the Cebu City Sports Center at 1 p.m.
Before that, he is expected to visit Garcia in her office at 10a.m. The governor’s staff yesterday arranged a room where a press conference will also be held./With Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus