Sinulog Festival of Cebu City is the most celebrated festival in the Philippines. It is the time when people, in Cebu and nearby provinces, flock in the streets of the Queen City of the South to participate in three major activities: join the processions and be pilgrims, watch the colorful parade, and get wasted on street parties.
The festival is being held every third Sunday of January in relation to the Feast of Sto. Niño. And since I am based in Cebu, and a #SinulogVirgin as Cebuano friends say, I was able to participate on the three: attended the last day of the novena mass, documented the grand parade, and partied in the infamous Baseline.
The first event on my first Sinulog experience started Friday night for the last day of the novena mass. Faithfuls are really passionate and do everything just to get inside the compound of Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño, and it was a difficult one I must say.
Tears almost fell from my eyes when I got a glimpse of the number of people inside the complex. With the struggles we had in getting inside the area, I was able to see the flame in everyone, the fire that keeps them going, the “paglaom” (hope) they get and desire from Señor Sto. Niño.
The priest, once in a while, asked everyone to shout their praises which the crowd answers, “PIT SENYOR!” It was awkward for me at first to join them because I was not sure how it is being done; everyone raises their right hand and shouts the words. For the next “PIT SENYOR”’s, I found myself praising Sto. Niño.
Another thing was the Bato Balani sa Gugma, which literally means “magnet of love”, that the devotees sing while their hands being waved in the air. The procession on Saturday afternoon was one of the longest and having the most number of participants I have ever seen.
At dawn of Sunday, we went back to Basilica and saw people queuing at the back of the church to go and see the Sto. Niño perched on the church’s altar. The floor of Magellan’s Cross was also filled with candles offered by faithful.
Roaring drums, dancers in their colorful costumes, and the beautiful Sinulog Festival Queens were some of the attractions on that Sunday morning for the Grand Parade. Winners from Sinulog sa Kabataan and contingents from nearby provinces competed for the best street dancing and ritual showdown.
Our group wasn’t able to secure a photographer’s ID as the registration fee was too hyped at Php1800, and we weren’t intended to join the photo contest. We only wanted to take better photos to share the festival fun for our blog readers, like you. So we sneaked beyond the rope and joined the registered photographers on documenting the parade. Sometimes, organizers caught us for not having an ID; we were obedient to get out but gets back inside a moment after.
Aside from the colorful costumes and dynamic dances, there were also floats and higantes as part of the Sinulog competition. Some floats even have celebrities that brought sizzles to the spectators. Aling Dionisia was one and most applauded because of the way she danced with the Sto. Niño in her hands.
For this year, winners for the Sinulog grand showdown are the following:
Champion: Kulturang Placereño
2nd place: Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe, Tangub City
3rd place: Carcar City Division
4th place: Tuburan National High School
5th place: Talisay City Central School
Best in Costume: Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe
Best in Musicality: Carcar City Division
Free Interpretation category
Champion: Tribu Buyoganon, Abuyog, Leyte
2nd place: Tribu Lingganay, Alang-Alang, Leyte
3rd place: Tribu Himag-ulaw, Placer, Masbate
4th place: Catbalogan City, Samar
5th place: Lumad Basakanon
Best in Costume: Tribu Lingganay, Alang-Alang, Leyte
Best in Musicality: Tribu Buyoganon, Abuyog, Leyte
Champion: Lumad Basakanon, Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City
2nd place: Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe, Tangub City
3rd place: Kulturang Placereño, Placer, Masbate
4th place: Tribu Buyoganon, Abuyog, Leyte
5th place: Tribu Lingganay, Alang-Alang, Leyte
And of course, as what people usually say, your Sinulog experience won’t be complete if you’re not going to join the street parties along Mango Avenue. For us, we had fun in the well-known Baseline where everyone was allowed to put paints, throw colored powders, and splash beers on anyone’s head, face and body. I was hesitant at first, but I saw myself in the crowd afterward.
Consuming five bottles of Tequila didn’t stop us from partying and getting more drinks and food from the adjacent table. We were drunk and we thought we were friends with the people on the other table; they were kind to share what they have though. By the way, puking was super acceptable.
Getting in and out of the streets was a challenge as you needed to get out of the crazy crowd like you were fighting for your life. I left the area around 10 in the evening, walked from Capitol to Ayala, and Ayala to Crossroads where I spotted a jeepney. I was home by eleven.
The first two phases are acceptable but the third one is still a standing topic to why people need to get wasted on a festival that only aims to recognize the image for the blessings it provides to its believers. I will be biased if I’m going to share my idea on this because what I know, I enjoyed the street party and discovered that Cebuanos really know how to party. Anyway, no #SinulogVirgin anymore!