Cebu's Colorful Sinulog

By Calvin Cordova

The Philippines is known for its colorful festivals but if there is a festivity that stands out the most, it is the Sinulog Festival.

(Photo by Juan Carlo de Vela) (Photo by Juan Carlo de Vela)

Done every third Sunday of January to honor Santo Niño, Sinulog Festival is a consistent crowd drawer with thousands of local and foreign tourists descending on the Queen City of the South to witness what is described as “mother of all festivals.”

So what makes the Sinulog celebration special? It is not all about revelry but also a time for the devotees to show their strong faith in the Sto. Niño.

The Sinulog Festival is not just a one-day affair as days before it, spectators are treated to various cultural activities such as beauty pageants, photo contests, film-making competition, singing and dancing contests, among others.

Adding spice to the festivity are street parties, concerts, cultural shows, fireworks display and events featuring the country’s well-known celebrities add glitter to the festival.

But the celebration reaches fever-pitch on the festival day itself when various contingents from all over the country showcase colorful costumes while dancing to the music of the drums and trumpets.

The colorful dance is a way of giving tribute to Sto. Niño. Performers usually carry images of Sto. Niño while doing the two-step forward, one-step backward dance steps that aptly describe the word “Sinulog” or water current movement.

The parade of giant floats boarded by celebrities and prominent personalities is also one of the special attractions during the Sinulog Festival.

Cultural activities are not the only thing that the Sinulog celebration can offer as religious activities are also lined up through the Fiesta Señor celebration.

For this year, the Sinulog Foundation, Inc. (SFI) is putting more emphasis on the religious aspect of the celebration.

“We have changed the criteria for judging for the presentations this year. Before, it was more on props, but now,it is more on culture, more on dance. The festival presentation should be in line with the Basilica del Minore Sto. Niño because there will be no Sinulog without Sto. Niño,” said Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, chairperson of SFI executive committee.

This year, the 454th Fiesta Señor celebration carries a theme One Beat, One Dance for the World in line with Cebu City’s hosting of the World Youth Day in 2021, said Tumulak.

The Fiesta Señor kicked off last Thursday, January 10, with the “Walk With Jesus” procession and novena mass. The solemn procession signaled the start of the nine-day novena mass.

The Sinulog cultural festivities started last January 11 with the “Sinulog sa Lalawigan” parade followed by the “Sinulog sa Barangay," respectively.

The fluvial procession of the image of the Holy Child will be on January 19. The grandest festival, on the other hand, will be on January 20.

“We already have a total of 30 dancing contingents and 38 floats,” said Tumulak.

For the first time in its history, the festival will have a foreign contingent as the Wonju Dynamic Dynamic Dancing Carnival from South Korea will be joining as guest performers.