Freeman Metro Cebu

3-peat Sinulog victory ends with a ‘no-show’

Gabriel Bonjoc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Talisay City failed to send an entry to the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan this year — a stage it dominated in the last three consecutive years.

Unconfirmed reports have so far attributed Talisay City's no-show to budget constraints, but even this did not make sense to some city officials.

City Councilor Richard Francis Aznar, for instance, wondered why budget has become "an issue" this year when, in fact, the city was able to join in the previous years even if the City Council was still deliberating on the annual city budget.

"Sayang kaayo nga daog gud ta pero nganong wala man kaapil (It's such a waste why we never joined when we are the defending champions)," said Aznar, who also sits as chairman of the Council Committee on Education.

Since 2013 to 2015, the Talisay contingent, composed mainly of performers from the Talisay City Central Elementary School, consistently emerged champion in the annual ritual showdown that is held especially for participants from towns and cities in the province, except for Cebu City.

The Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan, along with the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan (city), usually takes place a week before the Sinulog Grand Parade.

Winners in both elementary and secondary divisions of these special contests automatically earn a ticket to the grand parade, clashing with out-of-town contingents.

Aznar said he heard reports from the school that they failed to join because of budget concerns.

Reacting to such reports, he defended the council, saying it has been the practice, even in the previous years, to send a contingent despite the council not having passed the budget ordinance yet.

He said the budget allocated for the activity is usually released shortly after the activity.


Aznar has another theory, though.

Three months after the city's participation in 2014, he recalled, Talisay City Central School pupils had asked for their share in the winnings.

That year, the contingent got P400,000 in cash prizes after earning the top spot in the Sinulog sa Kabataan and fourth place in the Sinulog Grand Parade ritual showdown.

It was later learned that then city budget officer Edgar Mabunay "borrowed" P300,000 of the prize to pay for necessary expenses, like the fee for the drum and bugle team and food and transportation expenses, among others.

The school's former principal, Edwin Caparida, yesterday told The FREEMAN that Mabunay is yet to refund P100,000 of the winnings he reportedly borrowed.

Mabunay had long said he did not use the money for personal needs but to pay for Sinulog-related costs. He declined to issue a statement yesterday.

The FREEMAN yesterday tried to contact the office of Mayor Johnny De los Reyes for his comment on the matter, but he did not return the calls and messages.

However, City Administrator John Yre De los Reyes, in a text message, said they called the Department of Education in Talisay City ahead of the Sinulog sa Kabataan in order to reportedly discuss participation plans with them.

He claimed that they were only told that Sinulog is not DepEd's priority this year because they are busy preparing for the upcoming Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association meet.

John Yre said they were surprised why DepEd was not interested to join this year.

"And to think every year gyud ta moapil ana and kita'y nidaog last year. I hope wala'y politika nagpaluyo aning tanan. We are 100 percent mosuporta gyud sa maong event," he said.

Claims Denied

But Leah Noveras, schools division superintendent in Talisay City, vehemently denied such claims.

She said she never talked about the Sinulog event with any of the city officials and that, in fact, no meeting occurred between her and John Yre.

"Kinsa kaha ang ilang ka-istorya sa DepEd?" Noveras said.

She said DepEd's involvement in the activity centers merely on coordinating with what the city government wants to happen.

"Example sa props, hatagan ra og amount ang school for a particular item. Sa food, costume, ug uban pa, gi-process na siya daan. Ang wala lang maklaro diha karon kay ang budget since last time wala na mosugot ang COA (Commission on Audit) nga kuhaon sa SEF (Special Education Fund) so didto na siya sa General Fund which we have no knowledge of," Noveras said.

She added that DepEd has not refused any work assignment from the city, pointing out that they were just waiting for the source of funds which went "controversial" the last time.

"We were also not called for a meeting nor did we receive any communication for this purpose. Wa pa'y activity sa city nga gipa-handle namo nga among gi-turn down. I can cite many successful activities nga sa city unta pero DepEd ang nag-handle," she said. (FREEMAN)

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