Sinulog Festival in Cebu
Every January, the most anticipated event of the year brings the city to life. The Sinulog buzz is in the air indeed.
Bazaars are discernible on the streets of Osmena Boulevard. A carnival has been set up. Street vendors display T-shirts and other goods with colorful and artistic designs, which reminds us that the festivities are just around the corner. Yes, the holidays are gone, but the party is just heating up in Cebu City.
The Sinulog dance.... and vibrant costumes
One of the tourist attractions in Cebu is the annual celebration of Sinulog.
It is one of the grandest and most colorful festivals in the Philippines. The festival is held each year during the third week of January in the City of Cebu to honor the the Santo Nino or the child Jesus.
More than just the meaning of the word is the significance of the dance. Sinulog, which is of pagan origin is the link between the country's pagan past and its Christian present. Let's dig a little into the history of this event.
Historical accounts say that before Portuguese navigators came to Cebu on April 7, 1521 to plant the cross on its shore and claim the country for the King of Spain, Sinulog was already danced by the natives in honor of their wooden idols. Then the Spanish explorer Magellan came and introduced Christianity.
He gave the Santo Nino (image of the Child Jesus) as a baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, wife of Cebu's Rajah Humabon who was later named Queen Juana. At that time, not only the rulers were baptized but also about 800 of their subjects.
The remnants of Magellan's men were however able to return to Spain to report the incident and the possibility of conquest. It took 44 years before a new group came and started the formal Christianization of the islands. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived in Cebu on April 28, 1565. His ships bombarded the village and in one of the burning huts, one of his soldiers named Juan Camus, found a wooden box containing the image of the Santo Nino lying side by side with native idols.
Child Jesus replicas
Historians now say that during the 44 years between the coming of Magellan and Legaspi, the natives continued to dance the Sinulog. This time however, they danced it no longer to worship their native idols but as a sign of reverence to the Santo Nino which is now enshrined at the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino in Cebu City.
Sinulog is a dance ritual in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Nino. The dance moves two steps forward and one step backward to the sound of the drums.
Though the festivity by tradition lasts for nine days, the celebration entails only two major activities: the religious procession on a Saturday and the grand street parade the following Sunday.
The day before the parade, the fluvial procession, a water-parade, is held at dawn from the Mandaue City wharf to Cebu City wharf with the Santo Nino on an outrigger boat decked with hundreds of flowers and candles.
The procession ends at the Basilica where a re-enactment of the Christianizing of Cebu follows.
Devotees in Sto. Nino Church
After the procession, high mass is celebrated. Following the mass, devotees who have petitions begin to perform the Sinulog dance. Many people believe that their hopes in life are answered by dancing the Sinulog after the solemn procession.
Thousands of pilgrims and devotees from all over the country flock to the streets going to the Basilica bringing with them candles, rosaries, and replicas of the child Jesus. Likewise, parishioners from different parishes, business sectors, colleges and universities, government officials, archdiocesan organizations and all sectors in the Cebuano community, including group of friends, families and relatives join together in honoring the patron saint.
In January be swept away by the Sinulog Festival in Cebu!
Come and enjoy the festivities and experience the celebration like no other. Viva pit senor!