It’s official, the Sinulog Foundation, Inc. (SFI) announced that Sinulog 2021 is cancelled. This year’s Sinulog is not like the past celebrations we’ve grown up to know, love and expect. There aren’t any parades, live tribal dance groups, Filipiniana costumes, and the spectacular dancing of the Sinulog to the beating of drums.
As we know, Sinulog is an annual festival held in honor of the Sñr. Sto. Niño, or Holy Infant Jesus. And every January, thousands of locals and tourists flock to Cebu for the festivities and religious activities. But this year’s celebration is quite different.
For months, there were debates on whether the Sinulog activities should be pushed through despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the announcement made by the SFI on the cancellation of the physical activities including the novena masses which are now being done online.
But how can we say that they’ve made the right decision?
COVID-19 Continues To Rage On
For one, the global pandemic remains a threat not just to certain individuals but also to the status of the country’s economy, education, and livelihood.
With the authorities needing to halt the advancements and operations of varying establishments in response to the rising surge of virus cases in multiple regions in the country and not just in Cebu. It threatens the income and hopes for the revival of our dynamic economy.
Remember that before the pandemic, the Philippines was already one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. Yet the lockdown has savagely pushed our country back to the brink of a recession.
If your family wasn’t affected by just one of the effects of COVID-19, you are one of the lucky ones. Since the pandemic has brought multiple small to medium sized businesses to temporarily cease operation or to permanently close. With even large businesses having to let go of some employees.
This resulted in about 4.5 million Filipinos to become jobless within the year 2020. And the unemployment rate was at 10.4% which is the highest recorded in 15 years. But as things started to quiet down, the unemployment rate also lessened to 8.7% in October but still leaves 3.8 million Filipinos jobless.
And before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was only at 5.1% in April 2019 or 2.3 million people. And the Philippines was in a position to become an upper middle income country for 2020.
The Reopening Of The Economy
While the authorities forecast that the Philippines economy will make a quick recovery in 2021, there are worrisome trends for consumption, capital formation and even the government’s spending that will not likely reverse even after the lockdown was lifted.
And unless these trends (soft consumption, delerating investments, and a lacklustre government spending) were reversed, the country is poised to remain in recession for a couple more quarters.
The Cancelled Sinulog Parade Doesn’t Hinder The Faith Of The Cebuanos
In another note, the Filipinos especially Cebuanos are known to be proud of our culture to the point that it could feel like cancelling Sinulog is like cancelling our history.
But pushing on with the grand parade and increasing the risk of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases starting with the health of the participants. Cancelling Sinulog 2021 is undeniably a sound and reasonable action. Besides, Sinulog 2021 is a celebration of faith and not just about how grand the activities are.
The initial plan of the committee was to push through the dance competitions at the South Road Properties (SRP) without an audience. Those who come from different cities and towns wanted it to be recorded and streamed at home instead.
In addition, the Basilica where most of the religious activities take place will only limit the attendees to 1,000 to ensure that physical distancing is strictly followed.
But let’s heed the message provided by the president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Felix Taguiam who said that:
“Our Snr. Sto. Niño will understand what’s in our heart, and devotion is the most important thing. We can still pray online as what we have been practicing already during our weekly Masses. Let’s not be complacent. We have to be (one and) together for a safe Sinulog and Fiesta Señor month.”
So while this might be the first time in recent years that a lot of the Sinulog activities will be done virtually. Cancelling the Sinulog’s Grand Parade doesn’t hinder the faith of the Cebuanos towards Señor Santo Niño.
The cancellation came from varying reasons all piled into one but it was also due to the recent spike in Cases in Cebu City that was attributed to the Simbang Gabi where residents were allowed to leave their homes for the daily novena masses without their quarantine pass.
And among the cancelled events are the Penitential Walk with Jesus, Penitential Walk with Mary, the Traslacion, the Fluvial Procession, and the Reenactment of the first baptism, along with the planting of the Cross, the first wedding, the Solemn Foot Procession, and the proposed Cebu Provincial Pilgrimages are also halted.
READ ALSO: Simbang Gabi: Why Filipinos Celebrate It
Public Safety Is The Utmost Priority
In line with the health and public safety departments, a statement was made by the CMS president, Dr. Minnie Moteclaro and her group who said that while “Sinulog is a convergence of both spectators and performers. These forms of mass gatherings pose a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.”
“It is our firm belief that public health and safety should be of utmost priority. Therefore, we strongly oppose the holding of the Sinulog 2021 and other related activities. We further make this appeal to the public to please stay at home and observe standard precautionary measures,” they added.
And these are sound decisions as Sinulog 2021 is cancelled to protect the masses from exposure to the virus. Especially when a Sinulog participant had tested positive for COVID-19. The Cebu City Emergency Operations Center immediately conducted contact tracing to identify those who had close contact with the participants which also included the 90 members of the group.
We Should Still Be Grateful We Can Attend Virtual Masses and Novenas
Lastly, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma is encouraging Cebuanos to obey the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID), the local government unit, and the church for the upcoming Fiesta Señor or Sinulog 2021 celebration in January.
Palma said this in an appeal that the country which is still in a pandemic could prioritize their health and to contain the spread of the virus while still keeping the faith towards the Holy Child Jesus.
Palma said that the foot and the fluvial procession of the Fiesta Señor were already canceled by the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño which was done to avoid any mass gathering that could contribute to the spread of the virus.
“The Augustinian priests have met with the IATF and government officials. They have already made guidelines, like no foot procession, no fluvial procession, those things,” Palma said.
Despite this, Palma reminds the devotees of the Snr. Sto. Niño that they should still be grateful as they can still attend and participate in masses, novenas, and other religious activities of the church.
“We may not celebrate it as we would have wanted, but hopefully, after this or next year, we can.” he added.
The General Public Responsibility: Preventing Another Lockdown
The public controls the future of the nation. Although Sinulog 2021 is cancelled or not, they must abide with the regulations set by the government. As this will affect the situation of the economy and the livelihood of millions of people.
But we urge individuals to take heed to their responsibility in protecting themselves and their fellow man from another lockdown and facing an even worse predicament in 2021. While also helping to spur the country’s economy forward with just a little restraint, and self-discipline.
So What Can We Do To End The Pandemic?
Although Sinulog 2021 is Cancelled, chances are that you have errands to run do either in Cebu, City or its provinces. So in order to guarantee that you will be safe during the first month of the year. Here are 15 ways to make this Sinulog 2021 and January safer.
No loitering (Head Home After The Mass)
As much as possible it would be better to participate in the novena mass in the safety of our homes. However, if one decides to head to the church during Sundays. Then please note that you should refrain from loitering and head home right away after the mass.
Avoid crowded areas (Bars, Malls, etc.)
If you don’t have any groceries to buy in the mall, then it’s best to stay at home and avoid crowded areas that could be hotspots for COVID-19 transmissions.
Avoid Texting In Public (Plan Ahead Where To Meet)
Let’s not also forget to avoid texting in public less we would also invite thieves to eye our valuables. So before you and your family head out, you must plan where to meet if ever you become separated or have different destinations to go to.
Travel Light (Bring Only What You Need)
Only bring what you need like water, alcohol, towels and cash. Avoid bringing your laptops or other gadgets that could be targets of thieves and pickpockets. And always make sure to place your backpacks in front of you to keep it secured.
One could wear a wristwatch but other valuables such as a necklace and earrings aren’t safe in public areas.
Be Careful Where You Buy Your Meals
Always opts to eat in areas that follow the guidelines. The cooks must wear gloves, masks, a face shield and a hairnet. You wouldn’t want to have an upset stomach just after participating in one novena mass now would you?
Wear Facemask and Face Shields
And speaking of face masks and face shield, make sure that you also wear one to protect yourself and others from possible infections of the COVID-19 virus.
Park and Secure Your Cars In A Safe Area
Also take note of the area where you park your cars, it must be in well-lit areas with good visibility in order to avoid being ransacked. And also don’t leave anything valuable in the car either that could be seen or tempt the thieves.
Maintain Social Distancing (Limit Interaction With Strangers)
While this is mainly due to the protocols provided to help protect us from COVID-19. But it also our responsibility to be wary of strangers and limit our interaction to people we do not know.
Be Alert and Wary of Conmen
There are plenty of scams and con men that are waiting to strike at unsuspecting people. And it is up to you to keep yourself safe by staying alert and wary of strangers at all times.
Travel In Pairs (With Family not Friends)
As much as possible, don’t travel alone in crowded areas. But go in pairs with your family, not friends in order to ensure your safety and look out for each other’s belongings.
Regularly Disinfect Your Hands
Public areas are filled with microbes that aren’t just about COVID-19. We have salmonella that could prove to be problematic especially in giving one an upset stomach and diarrhea. There are plenty of things that you should look out for. But this is just to prevent you from going to the hospital as they are establishments that hold plenty of viruses that you could bring at home.
Refrain From Touching Your Eyes and Mouth
Always avoid touching your eyes and mouth in public especially when one wasn’t able to wash their hands with soap and water.
Abstain From Drinking Alcoholic Beverages
If you consume alcoholic beverages during a pandemic, you are likely to increase the health risk as they not only weaken your immune system but they also cause poor decision making behaviors and mental issues that could lead to violence.
And lastly, don’t forget to rehydrate in order to balance your body fluids and prevent any indigestion and headaches plus they can also help maintain your body temperature.
While these may not seem like much but they are essential in containing any further spread of the COVID-19 virus.