By Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
If Cebu City has its Sinulog, the local version of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, Aklan its Ati-Atihan, Iloilo its Dinagyang, Bacolod its Maskara, Tacloban City has its Pintados.
The street-dancing parade comes during the fiesta celebration of the places mentioned.
But wait, Pintados has been outlawed by the city government. In its place, Mayor Alfred Romualdez has come up with Sinagyaw, which has practically the same motif as Pintados.
The reason is political.
Pintados, which started 25 years ago, was organized by the Leyte provincial government headed by Gov. Jericho Petilla, Romualdez’s arch political enemy.
On Monday, Mayor Romualdez, disobeying a court order, blocked the path of the Pintados parade with dump trucks of the city government.
Romualdez, the nephew of former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, said the judge who issued the temporary restraining order against the city ordinance banning Pintados was biased.
The mayor claimed that Judge Salvador Y. Apurillo is a special friend of former governor and now Mayor Remedios “Matin” Petilla of Palo, a town adjacent to Tacloban.
Matin Petilla is the mother of the current governor, Jericho Petilla.
How could Alfred Romualdez stoop that low?
Although the Petillas are taking the personal insult with a grin-and-bear-it attitude, some of their followers are digging up the past of the mayor’s wife, former actress Cristina “Kring-Kring” Gonzalez.
“Well, at least, our former lady governor was not a Brunei beauty,” said a Petilla follower in reference to Filipino women who were hired for fabulous sums years ago to “entertain” during parties held by Brunei monarch Sultan Bolkiah.
There is a saying that when you live in a glass house, you don’t throw stones at your neighbor’s house.
I’m not siding with anybody—the Romualdezes or the Petillas—but why don’t they unite even for just a few days in celebration of the feast of the Sto. Niño, the city’s patron saint?
Street dancing and other activities precede the fiesta on June 30.
Why don’t the Romualdezes and Petillas merge the Pintados and Sinagyaw parades into a single festival so that everybody is happy?
Why doesn’t the local Catholic Church clergy intervene and have the warring parties smoke the peace pipe, at least for the duration of the religious feast?
I’m also faulting the local media for making the Romualdez and Petilla families quarrel like fighting cocks.
If these feuding families still want separate parades for Pintados and Sinagyaw, they can hold them on separate days.
And why did Mayor Romualdez ban Pintados, which has preceded Sinagyaw by 23 years?
Sinagyaw was born only two years ago upon the mayor’s order.
Why doesn’t Romualdez practice charity toward his enemy by allowing the Pintados parade in the city?
* * *
Tacloban City is very close to my heart because that’s where I finished my high school education.
It’s a pity that the city I love so much is wracked by petty politics and juvenile-minded politicians.
People in the city of Waray—which natives in Leyte and Samar are called—are very warm and hospitable; in fact, hospitable to a fault.
During fiestas, Warays invite strangers to their houses to partake of the food they prepare. They even allow complete strangers to sleep in their house.
To refuse an invitation from a Waray to eat food at his table during a fiesta is considered a personal affront.