10 dancing contingents pull out of Sinulog, cite safety concerns

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Photos courtesy of Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo

Cebu City (CNN Philippines, January 13) — Ten dancing contingents are pulling out of the Sinulog Grand Parade because of safety concerns for performers at the new South Road Properties (SRP) venue which is still under construction.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia called for an emergency press conference at the Capitol Thursday evening to announce contingents who want out of the annual parade.

Eight of the contingents belong to component local government units of Cebu Province while Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City also are withdrawing, citing the same concerns.

Garcia said they would only perform if the parade is held at the Cebu City Sports Complex (also known as the Abellana Grounds), the traditional venue, where it is safe for the participants.

"SRP is no longer an option," the governor said.

She added that mud started to build up amid the continuous rains at the unfinished venue which also still lacks electricity and tents.

Performers practicing on site, she said, were seen wading through mud to get to the stage, while props are destroyed after sinking into the newly laid asphalt.

"Today I made up my mind when I saw pictures plastered all over social media (of performers in muddied grounds)," Garcia said.

"When I saw these pictures, my heart went out especially to our children, ang atong kabataan na nag perform intawon (our performing youth)," she also said. "They do not deserve this."

With two days before the Sinulog, the governor said it is difficult to put in all the necessary infrastructure on site.

"I will have to make a decision, I will take it upon myself to make the hard decisions in order to protect the constituents of the Province of Cebu because above all, it is the health and safety of our constituents that I must prioritize," she said.

Garcia said that if Cebu City pushes through with the SRP as the festival venue, then Cebu Province will only be performing at the Sinulog in Carmen town on Jan. 22.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan also expressed support to Garcia's concerns and pulled out their dancing contingents in the grand parade.

The eight dancing contingents from Cebu Province that backed out include Carcar City, Talisay City, Toledo City, Naga City, and the towns of Carmen, Moalboal, Tuburan, and Consolacion where the governor herself was supposed to dance.

At least 14 dancing contingents — mostly coming from Cebu City and out of town — are left to perform.

This year’s Sinulog Festival is a comeback after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

CNN Philippines’ Cebu-based correspondent Dale Israel contributed to this story