Monday, January 18, 2010

Sinulog 2010 Grand Parade

A good one, overall, as has always been, I guess!

If you expect a full description of each of the competing groups, you won’t find it here. I can assure you though, that hundreds of those will come out on the web anytime soon – in varying points-of-view and degrees of overzealousness! These below are just my personal highlights of the parade and it is already a long one… as usual.

How did I approach this parade? Well, days before, I secured tickets (those were really IDs btw) for family members who wanted to attend sanz myself. That is because, some friends and I decided we would watch the parade from anywhere in the ‘roughly 5 kilometer route’ and do away with the final performances at the sports complex. Why? For various reasons really – some of which you will consider weird hehe!

Reasons. Familiar with what would be happening over at the big big grand stage, we were unanimous that we’d anyway be able to see good recordings of all groups on ‘you tube’ or elsewhere. The grand stage (due to it’s size) is far away from the viewing area – at least from the point of view of our lowly point-and-shoot digital cameras. We wanted to see once again – and on closer look, how the performers and crews are, while circling the length of the carousel parade route. And, we wanted to see too how spectators at the parade were, considering this was an unpredictable rain-and-shine week.

Yes, the Sinulog 2010 Grand Parade started wet with a light drizzle that became a full hot noontime sun, then a heavy afternoon rain and ended with a very light mist-like shower, before enjoying a clear night sky in time for the fireworks. Hah, am sure hundreds of performers and spectators won’t be feeling very well today, the day after! That was a mighty erratic sky to contend with. Nevertheless, everyone enjoyed, I guess!

Vantage. A day before the parade, we reviewed the carousel route to look for a place with a nicer vantage, a place where we could stand or sit freely on the side of the road without having to elbow or hug millions of humanity while craning our necks. We were unanimous that the corner of Imus and P. Del Rosario Streets were our best “target”. At such an area, the performers would be facing or half facing the morning sun, if any. Towards the afternoon, we would make our way to Mango Avenue (yep, that’s a.k.a General Maxilom Avenue) where performers would be facing the slanted afternoon sun, and even considered the option of proceeding to Jones Ave. if time allowed.

My notes:
Even if wide enough that we were sure only the other lane would have been used, Imus Street (and Imus Road) is not a place anyone can easily feel at ease watching a parade. Fact is, some friends and family advised us to go elsewhere. We knew and we have passed by that road a number of times. Most parts of the road is lined with shanties inhabited by the under privileged. Okay, let’s simplify that and accept the fact, it’s a squatters’ area - a slum, on most parts. And we Filipinos generally equate that with a lot of beggars, pesky little unruly children, war freak teenagers, bungangera mothers and topless drunk men who stare at people more than necessary. But we know Sinulog… almost every meter away is either a police, an army/airforce or a Barangay officer standing by. We still opted for Imus. In fact, the unattractive conditions in that road seemed to have assured us that many would avoid the place, thus, fewer people.

True to our “prediction”, the area was not so heavy with spectators that we could stand where we wanted to. Yes too, the descriptions in the previous paragraph were ALL present. Sus, there was even a detachment of Barangay officials who erected a tent on the side of the street, if only to assure everyone that order will be in order hehe! A fist-fight or two amongst the drunken residents of the area were easily and readily subdued – which to me even became spectacles in their own right!

The other lane not used by the parade was lined with temporary shacks hawking the usual favourite Cebuano snacks – grilled chorizo, longanisa, pork, chicken, dried squid and (of course) puso. Some even sold other dishes like sisig, dugo-dugo and the ever famous Siomai that everyone claims to be from Tisa! Aha, while I devoured two sticks of the barbecued chorizo (yes, can’t resist) we saw a city officer pull over near some vendors and emerged out of his multicab (the vehicle had prominent markings advocating cleanliness). He told a barbecue boy to pick up a brown paper bag on the side of the street. Next we heard him (in a mild manner) reminding all vendors in the area to always maintain cleanliness. He further asked if everyone had enough containers for their trash. Looked at one of the containers (a plastic shopping bag) and he said it was not enough. So he pulled out a big black trash-bag from the back of his vehicle, gave it to the stall owner reminding them again to ensure cleanliness. Impressive! Hey, his young son even assisted him in distributing those black trash bags! Doubly impressive!

The corner of Imus Road and Gen Maxilom was where the big float of Lhuiller would start. It was the tail-end of what is called “sector 5” in the carousel route. As folks were preparing the float, hundreds already flocked around it taking pictures of those costumed models from different countries. Yeah yeah, they all looked authentic like the ones in African costumes looked to me like real black Africans, the Korean Costume was worn by what looked to me like a lovely Korean, but for sure, the girl wearing that beautiful Filipiniana dress and carrying a Sto. Nino was a true blue bisdak! Hmm, colorful float! Oh yes, we saw the Belo Medical Group’s float over at the corner of Maxilom and Gorordo as we walked towards this place. It was less attractive than Lhuiller’s but we know Belo peppers it’s floats with famous models, popular actors and actresses – which is what makes them much-awaited. Sus!

Aha, the famous Lumad Basakanon was to take off from Imus Road! This is sector 6 in the route and what a wonderful chance. As we approached, they were already dancing in formation to the delight of the still thin crowd. We were awed watching them live and at very close range that none of us snapped a picture while they were dancing hahaha! Well, that was just their initial salvo. We knew they won’t be moving away from that place any sooner hehe.

Floats, puppets and groups were getting ready. Some of those lined at sector 6 I have already seen last weekend during the Sinulog Sa Kabataan 2010 – Lalawigan and Dakbayan.

Aha too! The Lanao Del Norte contingent was also taking off from this place! And of course we sampled their dancing albeit stationary since the parade was not moving yet. We were all sure this group would grab something. The moves were smooth and well synchronized. Oh my, their props were big and beautiful and they had to push and pull those for about 5 kilometers of ascending-descending roads (Mango Ave. area). Whew!

Aha more! After being mesmerized by the Lanao group, we see another group farther near the Day-as Barangay Hall, and they were dancing well. We went near even if we had to cross the stinky bridge. Aha! The group from Placer, Masbate! That is pronounced ‘pla’ as in platter not “place”, plus the ‘cer’ sounds like “ser” not the way you would say it in “racer” or “sir” but more like the ‘e’ in “per”. Now the two syllables are uttered in the speed and accent the way you would say “deter” or “refer” not “plaster” nor the English “placer”. Hmm, I think I have seen a similar group over at the Aliwan Fiesta two or three years ago. And if they are/were the same or similar group (meaning winners of the Himag-ulaw Festival), then this group should be good and might claim a prize or two!

The Placer group is interesting to watch. Like the Basakanon, they dare have moves that are slow to very slow – which as everyone knows is hard to synchronize if there are a hundred or so dancers! The motions are generally fluid. Also like the Basakanon, this very jolly group is composed mostly of older folks! Nope, not just your regular high school age kid! They are very good though – and I might attribute that to the wisdom of cooperation and team effort, as we get older! More of this group later.

Now now, we were tempted to keep walking so we could watch the other groups that have already started their dance routines even if stationary. Good someone reasoned that if the parade started moving, we’d be at sector 7 (P Del Rosario St.,) and we won’t anymore see Basakanon perform on the street since they’d be moving forward. Hah, so we traced our way back to the corner of Imus Road and MJ Cuenco where Basakanon waited along with others for the parade to start moving.

Pity on many of the performers. They were just waiting for their cue and baking under the sun. Some even already started to grab lunch while some looked for every available shade they can take refuge at. Saw not a few who actually snoozed the wait off!

The parade was scheduled to start at 9AM after the 8AM holy mass over at the sports center. But nothing moved (at least from where we were in Imus – sector 6) until about 11:40AM when the groups were suddenly rushed by marshals to move forward. Hmm, I thought that was not good at all. Something went pfft somewhere. Why the sudden gap that most groups were even asked to run. Ah, good that some groups insisted on walking the parade as they and the spectators expected – via their dances. Who were they? Well, the expected winners (at least from our point of view) like Basakanon, Abellana, Mabolokon, Himag-ulaw, Lanao, etc. Good good!

Back to the Himag-ulaw group from Placer, Masbate. After the rush rush runs to fill the big gaps in the parade, this group had to fortunately stop right in front of us to again wait for the parade to move. It was a good long minutes of waiting so we got to watch them do their street dance again. We even got to talk with some of their crews and the main choreographer. Such as? Hmm, am now checking for my schedules as they told us that the Himag-ulaw Festival in Placer Masbate takes place come February 18 to 22. That there is an easy ride from Bogo City to Placer. That the handsome young man who kept their muse able assistance and constant company is not her boyfriend but a cousin. That at the Himag-ulaw, the contests are usually amongst internal groups from Placer and none from outside of the said town as of yet. And many more.
We did observe that their muse was one of the “festival queens” with a more engaging smile. She was declared 2nd runner up some nights ago where the Pintaflores queen emerged as winner. Hmm that reminded us… where was Pintaflores, Surallah and Tangub? They had yet to pass by where we were.

Whohoa! No sooner than we wondered where they were came the children from Surallah, South Cotabato. They retained the same movements that won for them the top prize over at the Kadayawan last August. While I liked them, I did not think they’d grab top honors in Sinulog 2010. As I said in my Kadaywan article, the dances there were fairly “regular” – meaning not that fantastic.

When an imminent long wait was about to happen, we walked away from the parade to catch some late lunch. And after the long and arduous walk of trying to get away from the crowds (even took a short-cut via Sorsogon Road, a little street towards Ayala), we landed at JCA Pizza on the corner of Gorordo and Cardinal Rosales Avenue. Had our fill and we were all very sure that after our pizzas, we could walk down Gorordo to its intersection with Mango without missing any group. True enough! When we arrived at the said corner, the Himag-ulaw troop was just passing by! Nge! This parade was slower than how it was last year! then followed Surallah.

After Surallah, the fantastic float, ah that’s more precisely “floats” of IPI, came to bring out the oohs and aahs from the crowds. My goodness theirs was a huge float composed of a number of trucks with three fierce lions and a gladiator up front. Grand, really!

The next crowd drawer was the Sinanduloy Troupe from Tangub City. With a lot of wins in this festival, all who keep a constant watch on the Sinulog were jubilant and expectant of a great show from this group. When they passed, everyone got their fair share of what was expected. This group never fails to wow the crowd. Hey, even their city mayor was with the group. He just probably knows they are one of the best.

Not to be easily forgotten, next came the Pintaflores troop! Hah, police and other military dudes had to drag that rope backwards since the crowds (include us) surged forward for an even closer look at the fantastic show as this group from San Carlos City performed. The festival queen was all smiles in her bright red concoction of a beautiful gown (that must be heavy hehe) and the dancers wore a complex array of what have yas! The crowd was not disappointed, and I think the dancers too since the loud applause and cheers seemed to be too frequent until they were out of our view.

Next big thing? Well, the famous (if not infamous) city hall contingent hehe. Now am laughing again! Ah this troop that bannered the ‘Cebu City Government’ will not easily be forgotten by at least a thousand or so spectators who were at the corner of Mango Ave. and Gorordo. Not “much awaited” but there they were, when the troop arrived at the place everyone seemed to inch forward for a closer look. No cheers. Almost dead silent… y’know… expecting the worst if not the ugliest of politicking gimmicks by the “wise guys” over at city hall. But something unexpected happened…

Roar! The crowd rose into a thunderous applause when the dancers fronting the pack started gyrating. This was a group of about 20 to 30 gay dancers in all their graceful splendour to capture the limelight. They were good and the crowd cheered them on. The mass of them sisterettes, as if trying to outdance each other, though still highly synchronized but exaggeratedly feminine, got the crowd literally roaring. I heard a woman exclaimed “yehey, yan ang performance”! Then… it suddenly rained… a heavy downpour at that!

A man from the second level of that house in the corner just across Philamlife shouted “ataya ninyong mga bayota mo, ‘da ni-uwan na”! And the crowd started laughing with a thunderous ha ha ha, some even sounding those highly audible whistles by putting fingers on their lips. The laughter was genuine as if everyone was witnessing a comedy of comedies. And the gurlz… okay gays… all the more danced mightily as if being encouraged by the cheers and the laughter. Hah, that comedy relief even drowned the view that Mike Rama, yep the handsome vice-mayor, piggy-backed on a motorbike was with them all along and drenching in the heavy downpour!

After the gays, yes the SRP float. But nothing fantastic or untoward there. It was almost ugly even. A very haphazard concoction of a float trying to depict that area and highway called south road properties. No one even bothered to put in a replica of the “jackstones” which to many a visitor is reminiscent of the place. So attention was still with the gay dancers, even if they were already moving forward and beyond the corner.

It was followed by the people in black – most awaited as the news headlines bannered (a day before) a lot of criticisms that the city government was themselves doing disrespect to the Sto Nino by having black shirts printed with a different meaning of SRP to attack the provincial government. It did not happen and it did not occur. Good move. I even thought deep inside me… “thank you natauhan kayo”. Imagine a girl from a group of boisterous youngsters near us exclaim “wala man di-ay katong Suya Ra nga t-shirt” and her companion readily followed with “ready na bitaw ko mag-boo, hain naman ‘to” and yet another said “ka-shagiton na ra ba ko”!

So, ugly float… political overtones that never happened… and the over-graceful gays that made the rains drop… what do you think will the crowd in that corner remember? Ah hehehe, when the rest of the dancers from this group were passing by, some folks started shouting “bayot, bayot, bayot” to cheer the gays up front. And some of them would gamely run back (still dancing) to the area where those folks were cheering. A happy and gay ending, really!

Now now… everyone knows that last of the parade is always the host – which was this contingent from city government that just passed by, right? Therefore they were the last group from sector 8 that would be last to enter the sports complex. But this was (as has always been) a carousel parade. So, after them started coming the contingents from sectors 1 thru 5. It was getting late, and as each of the contingents passed by, the dancers looked tired and just literally exhausted. Costumes were wet and dirty and many of the kids really looked as if they were dreaming to hit their beds pronto. It was already getting to be more dramatic than fantastic, so when we learned from the AMA Computer College contingent that they were finally back at where they started, we decided to look for dinner.

All in all… still a grand show, even if there was rain, a very hot noon sun, long delays, fewer performing groups, bigger crowd, a drunken fist-fight at Imus road and anticipation of sour politicking that never happened. Golly, the Sinulog Festival is undoubtedly the best in these islands… so far!

Okay, better wind up the drinking over here at Pipeline so I could hit the sack and be ready for tomorrow's (ooops later today's) awarding ceremonies that starts at 1PM!

Pit Senyor!


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