President Rodrigo Duterte joined locals and visitors in celebrating the 40th Sinulog Festival at the Cebu City Sports Center here on Sunday.
Duterte, who traces his roots from Danao City, some 33 km. from here, expressed his delight in joining Cebuanos in celebrating the festival -- one of the biggest in the country.
Nia ko kay gihigugma ta mo'ng tanan. Ang akong pag-anhi apil ko sa inyong kalipay. Mao ra na gusto ko makakita ninyo (I'm here because I love you all. I come here so that I can be with you in your merriment. That's it, I want to see you), the President said, drawing applause from the crowd.
Duterte arrived at the venue at about 6:50 p.m. and was greeted with applause and cheers from the crowd yelling Duterte! several times.
He arrived just in time to watch the guest performance of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia who danced the Sinulog, along with Cebu Provincial Capitol employees and the Siloy Festival performers of Alcoy town.
He also watched the performance of the Tribu Basakanon, a multi-awarded dance troupe from this city, before he spoke to more than 6,000 spectators at the grandstand.
In his speech, Duterte also mentioned Cebu's transportation woes and drug problems.
The President was joined by Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino at the grandstand in watching the Sinulog performances.
Mayor Edgardo Labella thanked the President for responding to his invitation to be the city's guest of honor on the occasion of the 40th Sinulog Festival and in time for the 455th Fiesta SeAor in honor of the Sto. NiAo.
Love begets love. Ang imong gugma among tugbangan og gugma diha kanimo, Mr. President. Ang among mga kasingkasing puno sa kalipay ug kahinangop nga imo intawon mi'ng giduaw dinhi sa dakbayan sa Sugbo (Your love should be reciprocated with our love for you, Mr. President. Our hearts are filled with joy and happiness that you have visited here in the City of Cebu), he said in his welcome remarks.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Labella said Duterte was the second president to grace a Sinulog event. The first was former president Gloria Arroyo in early 2000.
The President, Labella said, confided to him that it was his second time to grace the Sinulog event, adding that he came here to grace the festival when he was still a vice mayor in Davao City many years ago.
Before leaving the sports center, Duterte posed for a photo with the city and provincial government officials and visitors.
Sinulog is the cultural aspect of the Fiesta SeAor in honor of the Holy Child Jesus whose festivity is celebrated every third Sunday of January.
The concept started in 1980 when the former regional director of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development David Odilao Jr., organized the first Sinulog religious dance on the city's streets.
Source: Philippines News Agency