THE FREEMAN, January 17, 2006 (STAR) By Cristina C. Birondo, Joeberth M. Ocao and Garry Lao - The Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe of Tangub City, Misamis Occidental is going home P1 million richer after winning two major titles in yesterday's Sinulog Grand Mardi Gras.

The group won first prize in the Sinulog-Based category that earned them P500 thousand and won another half a million pesos by topping the Street Dancing category. Another big winner was the Province of Camiguin, which is going home with P700 thousand for topping the Free Interpretation category and taking the third prize in Street Dancing.

Yesterday's grand celebration was a seen as a huge success with only minor glitches affecting the smooth flow of the parade around the carousel-type route.

It was back-to-back victories for Tribu Sinanduloy, which also won the title last year. The other year, the group finished second in the Free Interpretation category.

Changes in the weather conditions was one factor that affected the flow of the parade yesterday as rain fell sporadically during the day while a downpour drenched the participants and revelers early evening shortly before the parade ended.

The 43 contingents - 20 for Sinulog-Based and 23 for Free Interpretation - opened their day yesterday morning at the different starting points around the route. The revelers started filling the spaces along the road where the parade passed as early as 7 a.m.

Four new contingents from Passi City in Iloilo, Masbate City, Eastern Samar and the "Bag-ong Ozamisnon" from Ozamis City, added to the pomp and pageantry of the Grand Parade, which had five fewer participants compared to last year's 48.

The second place honors for the Sinulog-Based category went to Compostela National High School, which took home P300 thousand.

Third place and P200 thousand went to Bag-ong Ozamisnon while Barangay Apas took fourth place and P150 thousand. The fifth place went to Pundok sa Kabataan sa Day-as/Zapatera Elementary School, which won P100 thousand.

Pundok sa Kabataan sa Day-as won an additional P100 thousand for being the best in costume among the Sinulog-Based contingents.

Placing second in the Free Interpretation category is Tribu Pintados de Passi to claim the P300 thousand prize. Third place went to Tribu Iliganon winning P200 thousand while fourth was Panglao Municipality of Bohol winning P150 thousand and fifth was Inirangan of Eastern Samar taking P100 thousand.

Finishing second to Tribu Sinanduloy in the Street Dancing event was taking home P300 thousand was Lumad Basakanon-Tribu Magdadaro. The group also bagged an extra p100 thousand for being the best in costume among the competitors for the Free Interpretation category.

Results of the other competitions were not yet released as of presstime.

Medical stations set up by the different hospitals as well as 12 Kaohsiung buses that served as holding stations of the police were positioned in key areas around the parade route. Likewise, the police and volunteer civic organizations came in full force using thick plastic ropes as barricade for crowd control.

While the parade kicked off at around 9 a.m., some revelers say that the contingents seem to have gone around the route relatively slow observing the wide gaps between contingents.

These flaws could be partly due to the fact that for the first time, Sinulog organizers required contingents to perform their stationary dancing and ritual along the carousel route so those watching on the streets could get a glimpse of what they would do inside the Cebu City Sports Center.

The 50 to 100-meter gap in between contingents could also be because of the fewer participants.

Ten contingents from outside Cebu, that joined last year's revelry, begged off this year for various reasons, including financial setback.

The very first few contingents that performed at the sports center, including guest contingents from the Capitol and Cebu City Hall, were stuck at P. del Rosario Street for about two hours until around lunchtime, before they finally got moving.

Also, contingents that performed at around 1 p.m. at the sports center, including those from barangay Tejero and the municipalities of Dumanjug and Compostela, took over two hours before they reached P. del Rosario Street, near the University of San Carlos area.

The float of the Province of Cebu and its dancers were the first to reach the stage at the Cebu City Sports Center. Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia led the contingent and was the lead dancer.

The crowd favorites this year included Lumad Basakanon's Tribu Magdadaro, Compostela National High School and several contingents from outside Cebu like Panglao, Pintados de Passi, Province of Camiguin, Sinirangan, Langub-Mabinay of Negros Oriental; and Sinanduloy.

It was also noted that there were fewer people at the grandstand compared to last year. The crowd however started to swell after lunch.

A major crowd drawer was the float of ABS-CBN, which had a replica of the Pinoy Big Brother House and some of the housemates from the famous reality TV show were also there.

There were fewer celebrities and politicians spotted in this year's Sinulog festivities. At the grand stand, aside from Mayor Tomas Osmeņa and the local officials of the city and province, only Sen. Francis Pangilinan, government media head Cerge Remonde and DFA assistant secretary Frank Benedicto were the officials spotted.

Pangilinan, who claimed to have watched the Sinulog thrice, said that this year's festivity is grander and more world class.

"This is better and has more participation (than previous Sinulogs that I watched). It is more organized and has more activities. There are also more tourists from other countries," he said.

Policemen who manned the holding stations along General Maxilom Avenue observed this year's grand parade turned out to be more peaceful than that of the previous years, considering that no trouble was reported as of mid-afternoon. They said that in the previous years, there have already been incidents reported early in the morning.

Despite the heavy crowd, only a few incidents needed medical attention. Yesterday afternoon, attendants of the medical station at the Fuente rotunda brought a 14-year-old girl to the Chong Hua Hospital. The victim injured her finger after it her ring got caught when she jumped off a military vehicle.

Around the same time, attendants of the medical station along General Maxilom Avenue brought two men to the Cebu Doctors' Hospital after they suffered chest pains and hypertension. A few other minor cases were also treated

The parade was generally smooth in the morning, but the crowd at Fuente Osmeņa started to enter the barricade at noon when the authorities took time to rest and have lunch. The vehicle of the Citizen Police Auxiliary Group that was parked beside the rotunda had to be used to disperse the crowd.

On the other hand, members of "Tribo Lagubo" represented by students of the Don Sergio Osmeņa Sr. Memorial National High School complained of blisters when they were reportedly made to dance barefoot on the steaming stage at the sports center.

One of the dancers said they lost their concentration due to the scorching heat of the stage.

But Vice Mayor Michael Rama, chairperson of the Sinulog Foundation, considered the incident as the contingent's fault considering that they have reportedly been reminded to wear slippers during the performance. Rama himself went around the carousel route yesterday to personally supervise and assist in the parade.

The whole day affair was capped by a fireworks display at 7 p.m. after a presentation by Team Cebu City Dancesport featuring Margot Osmeņa launching the hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Cebu later this year. - with Wenna A. Berondo

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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