2011 Sinulog Festival



The Sinulog Festival is held every third Sunday of January each year in Cebu City. I haven’t been to any of the previous Sinulog except this year wherein it was my first time to experience such a colorful spectacle, rain or shine it didn’t diminished the zest of the Cebuanos to partake in such a grandeur event as witnessed also by countless visitors from the Philippines and other countries.

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Sunday - the day after my birthday was the highlight of the festival and as early as 9:00 AM, together with my friend Toni (she prefers the spelling Tony though) who is based in Cebu and her friend MecMec, we lined up along the thick crowd around Fuente circle hoping to catch the parade which started at around 8:30 AM.

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I wanted to take clear photographs of the parade, but doing so, standing in line at the side of the road is almost impossible as there's a lot of people who were issued photographer's pass taking images of the parade participants. So me and Toni went inside the rope barrier and to our delight nobody bothered to check our credentials. Haha.

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So there, we walked from Fuente circle up to the Mango area amid a flood of people, each faces gazing across the street marveling at the colorful costumes of the participants which was primarily composed of public schools students.

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Each contingent has their own unique choreography in dancing to the Sinulog beat and wore different costume themes while being led by their own 'princess' holding a statue of the Sto Niño. It was raining a bit during the parade which made it more admirable for the kids to go on with the festivities for good and get ill later. Drumming beats, gongs echoing and trumpets fading in and out of your eardrums, coupled with the alluring sounds of laughter and other expression of joys from the spectators. Everything all add up to the wondrous festive mood. It makes you forget about the somber weather which is currently raining down the parade.

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The word "Sinulog" was coined from the Cebuano word "Sulog" which describes a "water current-like movement". This in turn is applied in the forward-backward movement of a typical Sinulog dance, which is done as an accompaniment to the beating drums by making one step backward and two steps forward. The Sinulog dance step is said to have been originated by Baladhay, Rajah Humabon's adviser after a still unexplained event when Rajah Humabon fell sick and and after sending out for his adviser Baladhay to be taken into the church where a Sto Nino was enthroned, who, after a few moments, Baladhay was found to be spiritually possessed and doing the jiggy that morphed into the present day Sinulog dance.

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The Sinulog also highlights the Cebuanos devotion to the Santo Niño as evidenced by the throngs of people who participates in the annual procession and the festival which honors the image of the young Jesus Christ. A mass was held the previous day (Saturday) administered by the newly installed Archbishop of Cebu, Jose Palma at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño and was also attended by his eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal.

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From color yellows, to violet to green to gold. Each colors presented a unique look of the parade making it a feast for the eyes even to those who's experiencing only for the first time just like myself.

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During the middle of the parade, Tony invited me to come along her friend's house who were hosting a party over lechon and other foods. It was a great gesture and coupled by the fact that I was already starving from the long walks among a thick crowd. After lunch, I went back to the side of the road and watched the remaining contingents passed by. The parade which started somewhere Fuente circle came to its final destination at the Abellana Cebu Sports Complex which was near Yangee's place (Tony's friend).

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I saw Bong Revilla (who unfortunately showed up without his Panday character) and wife Lani Mercado and earlier the day President Noynoy Aquino was also in attendance at the Cebu Sports Complex to watch the early arrivals of the first set of contingents. As a helicopter hovers around dropping confettis and the shouts and shrieks of curious and enthralled spectators mixed with the jubilant drum beats and sound of joy, I felt really glad that I was finally able to witness the Sinulog festival for the first time and I'm pretty sure I'd come back for more Sinulogs in the future.

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Then came along a bevy of beautiful girls on one of the floats, I focused on my telepoto lens and found out they were the current crop of Mutya ng Pilipinas winners. How I wished they also did some dance moves but it was a bit strange that all of them looked half Caucasians, I guess we've come a long way from the Mutya Crisostomos and the Michelle Aldana's of the beauty pageant world who epitomizes the morena look of Filipinas. But hey, who's complaining? Definitely not me.

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Come nigh time that's where the street party turn its notches higher with free flowing delight among a raucous-like but in a positive definition kind of crowd, nothing mayhem nor rowdy happened to anybody at all. It was all rockabilly, psychobilly and festive atmosphere that gets inside you and awash you with good feelings and a celebratory mood. It was also great that aside from the Sinulog experience itself, I get to meet a new set of friends through Tony who introduced me to her friends and had me joined them throughout the Sinulog festival.

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with Tony, and her friends
Witnessing my first ever Sinulog Festival has afforded me a glimpse of a one of a kind component of our culture and at the same time indulging deeper into a long live tradition that is uniquely Cebuano.