CEBU CITY—Tens of thousands of revelers braved the heat to witness Cebu’s grandest and biggest celebration, the Sinulog Grand Parade.
The police placed the crowd in the city streets at 1.2 million, many of whom used umbrellas to provide shade and little relief from the sun.
A total of 142 contingents, from dancers and puppeteers to floats and higantes, paraded around the major streets in a six-kilometer carousel route that started and ended at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Unlike last year, the province did not send any contingent, apparently due to the suspension of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who had been the contingent’s main star.
Garcia has been holed up in her office at the capitol since Dec. 19 when she defied a six-month preventive suspension order Malacañang issued against her for grave abuse of authority.
But there were talks on Sunday morning that Garcia would leave her office and dance with the Rosquillos Festival of Liloan town, whose mayor, Duke Frasco, is husband of Garcia’s daughter, Cristina.
Liloan was scheduled to perform after Tribu Sinanduloy of Tangub City, Misamis Occidental, one of the last performers in the 10-hour presentation, according to sector assignments released by the Sinulog Foundation. This meant Liloan was expected to present between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
But many of the 12,000 people inside the Cebu City Sports Center, the final judging area of the performers, were waiting if Garcia would indeed dance.
“We were waiting for Liloan to come out to see how Gwen would look like and how people would react,” said Gregoria Pamintuan, 44 of Barangay Mabolo.
Pamintuan, whose family has been watching the Grand Parade every year since 2007, noted that Garcia and the contingent from the provincial government would perform after the group representing Cebu City did.
Gwen Garcia danced in office
But Garcia, clad in a black Sinulog shirt and jeans, danced the Sinulog, holding the Sto. Niño inside her office at about 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Her dance was not accompanied by drums but by the clapping of her friend, Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung, and two female companions to the beat of the Sinulog.
Hours later, Garcia stepped out of her office at the capitol where she had holed up since Dec. 19 to defy the six-month suspension order.
Garcia, clad in a white gown made by renowned designer Cary Santiago and a silver crown, was the lead dancer of the Rosquillos Festival of Liloan town, whose mayor, Duke Frasco, is husband of Garcia’s daughter, Cristina.
When she emerged behind a group of dancers at 7:39 p.m., emcee Sam Costanilla identified her as Gov. Gwen Garcia. Costanilla is provincial consultant.
Garcia, who was smiling all throughout the presentation, was joined on stage by Cristina in a red orange gown and husband Frasco, who was in a Barong Tagalog.
Her seven-minute presentation was applauded seven times as the crowd shouted in delight.
Yesterday’s 33rd Sinulog Grand Parade started with an 8 a.m. Mass, officiated by Bishop Emilio Bataclan, at the grandstand.
Mayor Michael Rama declared the Sinulog open at 9:16 a.m., signaling the start of the parade. Forty dancing contingents (18 Sinulog-based and 22 free-interpretation), 46 floats, 28 higantes and 28 puppeteers took part in the parade.
Unlike in the previous years when the city government contingent would open the Grand Parade, Val Sandiego and his wife Ophelia, dressed as San Jose and the Our Lady of Guadalupe, opened this year’s Sinulog with their dance interpretation of the song “Balaang Sto. Niño.”
Their dance troupe, San Diego Dance Company, then performed the opening Sinulog dance on behalf of the city government. Their dance depicted the first baptism and the introduction of Christianity to Cebuano natives.
The opening dance also showed why and how the first Cebuano saint, San Pedro Calungsod, lived to preach religion and became a martyr.
Different puppets, which included Elvis Presley, Tinker Bell, Clown, Cookie Monster and NBA superstar Lebron James, followed San Diego in lieu of the Cebu provincial government contingent before the dance competition started at 10 a.m.
San Diego dancers were expected to return to the Sinulog stage at 7 p.m. to close this year’s competition and introduce the grand finale, which featured 2012 Ms Tourism International Rizzini Alexis Gomez.
Many of the performers included San Pedro Calungsod in the themes of their dances. With a report from Charisse Ursal, Inquirer Visayas