Monday, June 13, 2005

What's a parade without onlookers

Independence day parade? "Correct", to imitate Kris Aquino.

This afternoon I joined our office contingent at the Independence Day parade in Cebu City. All national agencies with offices in the city sent, or were expected to send, a contingent. Even the provincial government sent a group because the capitol is located in the city.

The Independence Day parade, as usual, was spearheaded by the City Government who made the arrangement of the parade route and the placement of the different contingent at the starting point. Almost all parade in Cebu City now ends inside the Cebu City Sports Complex which has a big oval and a capacious grandstand on the western side. The starting point is only about two kilometers from the the Complex.

The first division of the parade started to move at around 4PM following the schedule. This division consisted of contingents from the city, the PNP and the different branches of the AFP. The division was lined up along the street that was part of the parade route. The first contingent, which were the flags, was positioned at the starting point which was a street corner.

Our division, consisting of the national agencies, was located on the street that crosses the parade route. When the tail end of the first division passed the street corner, our division followed. I estimated that when our contingent was halfway through the parade route, the front contingent was entering the sports complex.

We entered the complex at 5PM. The grandstand was already three quarters full. I was surprised because last year I noticed that as we entered many others were leaving; the grandstand was not even half full.

Then I saw the PMA cadets on one side of the oval and the emcee announced that the PMA cadets would be performing their famous fancy or silent drill. So that was why many were staying behind.

Our group went up the grandstand in order to get a good view of the drill. But it was not until 6 in the evening that the PMA cadets finally marched to the center of the field. There were the usual speeches I learned learned. I had left the complex before any of the speeches in order to get a bite at the office, which was just across the street from the complex, as I was already famished. On the way out I still saw many contingents on their way in.

When I returned at six the emcee was starting to introduce the PMAyers. They performed to the delight of the crowd until 7 PM. And I think that was the highlight of the day for everyone in the parade.

But the parade itself was not a highlight for anyone to remember the Independence Day by. Probably the parade was twice the length of the route. But it seemed nobody was minding it. The clumps of people along the route were just waiting for their groups to pass so they could join the parade.

The business establishments along the route probably even had less customers during the late afternoon as the route was made off limits to vehicle traffic.

So what is a parade without onlookers? And why were there no one to watch the parade? I'll offer a few thoughts next blog.