Sinulog Festival in Cebu Kicks Off Every January

Philippines’ well known festival in the 'Queen City of the South', Cebu, is universally known as the Sinulog Festival. It is an annual festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, Philippines. The festival honors the child Jesus, known as the Santo Niño, patron of the city.

The festival is characterized by a very long parade with many groups of persons dressed in colorful costumes, finding their way through the streets while dancing the Sinulog to the rhythm of drums, trumpets and native gongs.

While dancing, people are shouting petitions and thanksgivings to the Santo Niño. Shouting is necessary because the pilgrims have to be sure that they will be heard by the Santo Niño.

The Origin

The Sinulog was already danced by the locals in honor of their wooden statues in the period before the Cebuanos were baptized. Later on, after the image of the famous Santo Niño was brought to Cebu and the Catholic faith was established in the region, the dance was made a part of the yearly fiesta in honor of the Santo Niño.

Since 1521, devotion to the Santo Niño has grown and has taken root in Philippine popular piety, particularly in the Visayas; pilgrims from different parts of Cebu and the rest of the Philippines make their yearly journey to the church to take part in the procession and festival. Starting in 1980, the Cebu City government organized the Sinulog Street Carnival and eventually gave incentives to tribal dance groups.

Sinulog Festival in Cebu City
Sinulog Festival in Cebu City

The idea caught on and thus, under the direction of the Cebu City Mayor Florentino Solon with the help of several influential Cebuanos, Odilao turned over the Sinulog Festival project to the Cebu City Historical Committee under Kagawad Jesus Garcia. It was the task of the Committee to conceptualize the Sinulog festival and make it into a yearly event from then on.

In 1981 the following year, the concept of the Sinulog Parade was actualized, involving practically every sector in the Cebuano community. The Sinulog focuses not on the ritual itself but on the historical aspects of the dance, which, as it has been said, represents the link between the country's Islamic and Pagan past and the Christian religion.

Sinulog Festival

Just like the past festivity celebration, thousands of people are expected come and visit Cebu to experience the lively and symbolic celebration. Hotels are mostly booked in advance not only by the Filipinos from other parts of the country but also from foreigners all over the world – to witness the event and to experience the most exciting and most colourful festival in the Philippines.

This year’s celebration promises another electrifying scenery, the floats, the parade from different contingents, the colorful costumes, the energy of the people, the camaraderie and many other extraordinary experiences.

Sinulog Festival, which kicks off in January has a lot of things to see so that witnessing the event is something you don’t want to miss. A day before the most anticipated Sunday of January, features the following activities. Fluvial Procession of the Miraculous Image of Sto. Niño, Re-enactment of the Baptism of Queen Juana and Rajah Humabon, Solemn Procession of the Miraculous Image of Sto. Niño, Cultural Shows, Street party @ Fuente Osmeña and Plaza Independencia, 1st Sinulog Fireworks Competition, Kasadya Nite Mardi Gras @ Ayala Center Cebu, and Handumanan Concert at USP-F Theater for the Performing Arts.

The main event of the sinulog festival highlights the following events. Mañanita Mass @Basilica del Sto. Niño, Pontifical mass with His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, Sinulog Grand Parade Carousel, Grand Fireworks at Cebu City Sports Center, and Street Party Bands at Fuente Osmeña. Awarding ceremonies will commence the following day at Cebu City Sports Center.

Plan now to attend the most exciting festival in Asia!

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