Sunday

Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, Philippines

It is a year now since I last witnessed Sinulog, the biggest festival in Cebu City, Philippines. It is an annual festival held every third Sunday of January in honor of Santo Niño (the Holy Child Jesus. It is a dance ritual that commemorates the Cebuano people's Islamic and pagan origin, and their acceptance of Roman Catholicism.

This festival has been a tourist attraction in Cebu. Here are images and information about this famous festival. These were taken during my vacation in the Philippines last year.

The festival features a street parade with participants in bright colored costumes dancing to the rhythm of drums, trumpets and native gongs. Smaller versions of the festival are held in various parts of the province, also to celebrate and honor the Santo Niño. There is also a "Sinulog sa Kabataan" performed by the youths of Cebu a week before the parade. Recently, the festival has been promoted as a tourist attraction, with a contest featuring contingents from various parts of the country. The Sinulog Contest is usually held in the Cebu City Sports Complex.

The word Sinulog comes from the Cebuano adverb sulog which is "like water current movement," which describes the forward-backward movement of the Sinulog dance. The dance consists of two steps forward and one step backward, done to the sound of drums. The dance is categorized into Sinulog-base, Free-Interpretation. Candle vendors at the Basilica continue to perform the traditional version of the dance when lighting a candle for the customer, usually accompanied by songs in the native language.


The Sinulog dance steps were believed to originate from Rajah Humabon's adviser, Baladhay. It was during Humabon's grief when Baladhay was driven sick. He then ordered his native tribe to bring Baladhay into a chapel where the Santo Niño was enthroned. Moments later, surprisingly, Baldhay was heard shouting and was found dancing with outmost alertness. Baladhay was questioned as to whether why was he awake and was shouting. Baladhay explained that he found a small child, pointing to the image of the Santo Niño, on top of him and trying to wake him up. He, at great astonishment, scared the child away by shouting but couldn't explain why he was dancing the movements of the river. Up to this day, the two-steps forward, and the one-step backward movement dance is still used by the Santo Niño devotees believing that it was the Santo Niño's choice to have Baladhay dance. more Sinulog infos here

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