By Manual N. Oyson
OVER 20 years ago one Sunday when the religious “Sinulog” dance of faith and veneration was transported from within the private walls of the Santo Basilica on Jones Avenue to become a public showcase, with college students meandering and dancing in the streets surrounding the basilica to the beat of (would you believe?) “Hala bira!”
That was then an experiment, in the cultural tradition of Aklan’s annual “Ati-atihan” and Iloilo’s “Dinagyang.”BRAINCHILD: Instead of frayed and furrowed women candle vendors dancing and supplicating to the Santo Niño, with their rhythmic one-two steps within the gates of the historic church, the same was brought to the streets for the very first time. It was an experiment that immediately caught the fancy and excitement of the public, including visitors and pilgrims from outside Cebu.
Big colleges and universities willingly marshaled their physical education students to the brainchild of then Director David S. Odilao Jr. of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to showcase the “Sinulog” to the general public for the first time. They have been doing so every year since, while the “Sinulog” has become a religious and cultural spectacle of revelry and merrymaking of pandemonium proportions.
If for this reason alone, Odilao should be included among the ranks of the 100 most notable Cebuanos of the century. His forte and expertise was not politics, education or entrepreneurial. Rather, it was cultural reawakening and revivalism. In 1982, no less than former Cebu city mayor Florentino Solon called him publicly “Father of the Sinulog.”
OVERLOOKED: Despite his expertise, Odilao has practically been disregarded by organizers since the “Sinulog” Mardi Gras became a world-renowned extravaganza. But he will not be forgotten. He is a recipient of the Perlas Award as one of the 10 most outstanding Filipinos in the field of tourism; the Great Cebuano Award in the field of leadership; and the Presidential Award from Arena-7 and the Civil Service Commission.
In 1995, he was elevated to the Cebu Sports Hall of Fame for involvement and vital contribution to sports development in Cebu and other parts of the country. And many, many more distinctions in his public and private life. In the cultural history of the province, his name and fame is already secured. Does anyone still recall Miguel Lopez de Le-gazpi?
NOTES: The proposed Philippine Sports hall of Fame was conceptualized in 1985, or five years before the Cebu Sports Hall of Fame.
Businessman Danding Cojuangco was the chairman of the PSHF board.
The Edsa Revolution the next year aborted the project. The Philippine Sports Commission will be the lead agency once the bill establishing it is signed by President Estrada…I have just received the Sports Illustrated 2000 Sports Almanac from my son in Detroit, Michigan. It is 852 pages thick.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I want to play in the PBA and honestly that’s what I really wanted to do now.” – Dondon Hontiveros, quoted by Daily Inquirer, on the announcement that he has inked a P150,000 monthly salary with San Miguel beer.
(This article was first published in the Jan. 16, 2000 issue of Sun.Star Cebu)