Commercialized and politicized?

SIDEBAR - Quennie Bronce -

SFor days now, readers of The FREEMAN have been commenting on a question posed by our opinion editor on whether they think that the Sinulog Festival has become too commercialized and politicized. Others say that yes, the celebration has become commercialized and politicized while there are also some who don't agree.

I agree with those who say that the celebration has become commercialized. But this is but natural for the celebration to grow. By being commercialized, the Sinulog has grown to become the "mother of all festivals." I think we have nothing to worry about the celebration becoming commercialized. The bigger problem is the celebration being used by politicians.

I have interviewed Boy Odilao who is considered the "Father of the Sinulog" a few years back and from him I learned that the very first Sinulog was a simple parade participated in by the different schools in the city. The first Sinulog was made possible through the efforts of Physical Education teachers of the different schools. Over the years, the festival was able to attract not just the schools in the city, but also local government units within the province and in the country, as well. Private firms also started to join. Participation in the festival even grew to the point of attracting not just out of town contingents but also foreign contingents. The growth in the participation of the Sinulog grand parade was made possible by advertising the festival in order to attract people and organizations from outside Cebu City to participate.

The very first Sinulog was just pure dancing but over the years, floats and higantes have joined the parade. Before, the floats were simple and usually accompanied the contingents. Now the floats and higantes, which are either sponsored by an establishment or a contingent, have become one of the attractions of the parade.

The Sinulog Festival before was only a day of streetdancing. Over the years, because of corporate sponsors, many activities have been created which lead to the grand parade - the nightly entertainment at Fuente Osmeña, the different bazaars, the concerts, the Sinulog Festival Queen search, the photo contest and many other activities that prepare locals and visitors for the grand parade.

The Sinulog Festival has grown and one of the reasons for its growth is the entry of corporate sponsors and because of the entry of these corporate sponsors, we feel that the celebration has become commercialized. I don't think there is something wrong with that if we want the celebration to be as big as it already is.

The problem is the politicians. This is a democratic country and we cannot stop them from attending the different activities. We cannot ban them too from the grandstand during the parade.

But the Sinulog organizers can stop them from distributing items such as calendars and shirts and making speeches during these activities. We can acknowledge their presence, nothing wrong with that because we Cebuanos are a hospitable people, but we should leave it at that. It's another story once we let these politicians make speeches during the different Sinulog activities, especially during the grand parade.

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