At the crack of the third Sunday of the year, earthlings of “Gingharian sa Sugbo” or more contemporarily known as Cebu rose with much delight , thrill and excitement more than ever for the most celebrated day of the year in the land of the heart of the Philippine archipelago.
Mark and etched in country’s calendar, this day is devoted to the Child Jesus in Cebu. Cebu as the cradle of Christianity in the Asia. It is without a pinch of doubt, the celebration is heavily influenced with religion. Born in this vibrant island of Cebu is the festival that draws tourist of different walks of life and coming from the different corners of the world, is the famed Sinulog festival.
Sinulog festival has long , bewildering and fascinating history to account for that even dates back into ancient eras. For a quick information, Sinulog festival celebrates the child Jesus in a form of a little General of an Army called Sto. Nino, who is clothed with a crimson red coat, a golden globe on this hand and tiara on top of his head. It was brought by the Spanish conquistador Ferdinand Magellan as present to the island rulers King Humabon and Queen Humamai. Then on, people started to worship the miraculous image in a very unique way than the other. Cebuanos convey their prayers and wishes in a dance resembling the movement of a river current as the word Sinulog was coined from the vernacular word Sulog literally means the river current. Basically, the foot work rhythmic pattern would be 2 step forward and 1 step backwards. And days prior to the big day Cebu city have a jam-packed of activities both secular and civil organized by the community for its people and tourist alike.
Fast forward, the glimmering suns rays radiates the land heralding the start of a momentous day, the peculiar hand-hammered cymbals bunging sounds, the drum beats festive noise replaced the tweets and chirps of the birds and the vehicles running with stumping of foot undeniably it is Sinulogs main day.
Everyone is in high spirit and in glee in this day, friends, strangers , tourist or locals all is in the mood for a fun-filled day. My two-cent thought it would be better to start the day by attending the Mañanita Mass at the Basilica del Sto. Niño , it’s the first official mass for the feast day been attending this mass for past couple of years already and it feels magnificent to soothe your spiritual needs before going through the rest of the day. You can catch this mass at 4:00 o’clock in the morning however I encourage you to get there just before the time , you may end up standing the whole time as a sea of people is there just even in the wee hours patiently waiting for the mass.
Soon after the first mass is over, the streets of this beloved metropolis were temporarily cut off though there are still some routes that are functioning as normal especially those that aren’t directly involve in the street dancing competition. With this I strongly recommend you, to stretch and do the necessary warm up routine to avoid unwanted muscle pains for a long day of walking , strolling and ambling around the city. Simultaneously, the participants of the grand Sinulog parade is also beginning to fill in the clear streets of Cebu together with their colorful costumes, humongous props and unique musical ensembles to leave the audience in awe.
As the sun rose higher and the heat raising , the spectators enthusiasm and excitement goes up all together simultaneously. When the beat of the festival, begins all spirits up and go jive into the groove. With the contingents of various origins comes to hit off the roads of Cebu without a doubt all came prepared for the greatest dance battle of their lives. First round is the Street dance competition the street of Cebu transform from the bustling and congested road into a theater stage that encapsulates the magic and beauty of showmanship, the spotlight is on the entire city streets as the sea of people got to witness a mind-blowing performances each contingent will deliver. Glittering and shining intricate costumes will be one the sights to be hold and festival queen is an apple to everyone’s eye definitely. The synchronization and synergy of hundred of dancers is just spectacular bench marking a higher level of showmanship and performance one after the other. One can not just have a favorite right away as each contingent can reckon the other so better watch all performances before having favorites or betting you might lose just a piece of advice.
Other than the performing contingents, one can also see fancy and playful floats of various organizations, influential individuals , sponsors and some local celebrities might as well. Also there are hundreds of colossal puppets of famous cartoon characters or some product of ones imagination it is a sight that unleashes the child in you. So despite the scorching heat of the sun, you will not mind it at all if these things are at stake, right?
Moving on, here comes the grand showdown held at Abellan Sports complex, this the culminating part of the Grand Sinulog parade. Each contingent is going to perform the whole dance routine with precession and passion to deliver a winning dance performance. Certainly, the performer has this once in a lifetime opportunity to impress the judging panel and promote their local culture or tribe. Its a whole day event from sunup up until the sundown as contingents comes in bunch. There is no better way to cap an affair like this with a majestic and colorful pyrotechnic presentation.
But there is more, if you think the celebration is over yet think twice. More is in store at the dusk. Street parties , like bands and booze crowd took the center stage with water based color paints painted over you seems like you are a canvas at the end of the part you find yourself as a wonderful painting and to top it all there are multicolored holi powder thrown in the air for a wonderful airbrushed finish. Wet, wild and wasted that is what Sinulog event is like in the evening. Party like there is no tomorrow literally from dusk to dawn, Cebu is a young cosmopolitan so you will never get bored during Sinulog!
To wrap this up, the sights and sounds of Cebu during Sinulog is a manifestation of Cebu’s rich cultural heritage influenced with secular and civil communities tied up to deliver a world-class Sinulog experience to its inhabitants, visitors and the like. Further, Cebus Sinulog festival is an epitome of a living legacy that dates back for hundreds of year but continue to strive up to this contemporary era propelling to foster for a more years to come.
Viva Pit Senyor! Daghang Salamat!