Sinulog in Cebu draws huge crowds and prestige for Cebu each year. This year the big week for Sinulog starts today. What is Sinulog? Its the biggest part in all of the Philippines and one of the biggest in the world. It is a festival. Filipinos love festivals. There are festivals for neighborhoods, barangay also a neighborhood but a little larger, cities, and specific events. Sinulog itself is often called the mother of all festivals and several other similar grand terms. It is broadcast live all over the world.

Sinulog 2012 in Cebu

Unless something major happens, Jessie and I will be attending much of Sinulog this year.  Much of the activities occur at Fuente Osmeña Avenue and Fuente Osmeña Circle. This circle is located in what seems to be the center of town to me. Several streets intersect there. This circle is the first landmark that I remember seeing when I arrived in Cebu but I closed my eyes when the driver went into it as it seemed like certain death to me. Now though it seems like a normal part of living in Cebu.

This festival has Christianity at its center. It is both festive and solemn. It seeks to honor the Santo Nino which is housed in the Basilica del Santo Niño which is the oldest church in the Philippines. The Santo Nino is depiction of the Christ Child and believed to be the same one given to royalty of Cebu by none other than Ferdinand Magellan. Later Magellan was killed in the battle of Mactan which is also in Cebu. A village was burned in one the battles with the Portuguese and the Santo Nino survived the fire and was just about the only thing that did. So it is believed to be blessed and provides many miraculous blessing upon believers.

Two Million People in Two Days of Sinulog

The Santo Nino that is housed in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño can be viewed by the public. There  Santo Nino in Basilica del Santo Ninois usually a line and at some times of the year the line is very long. Jessie and I were able to visit the shrine and see the Santo Nino up close in November of 2011.

On the third Saturday and  Sunday of January there is a massive parade that showcases the culture of Cebu. It all started in 1980 with a simple dance. That dance is said to mimic the current or sulog in Cebuano of a river in Cebu. That being two steps forward and one step backward.

Now in 2012, the full festival is over one month long beginning in December with the parades and biggest day of the festival occurring on third Saturday and Sunday in January.

The parades starts at Basilica del Santo Nino then takes a long trek around the city along Fuente Osmeña Ave, through the Cebu City Sport Complex and  it returns to the Basilica at the end. Both events draw over one million visitors each day.

Saturday is solemn procession known as the Fluvial Procession. On this day the Santo Nino and devotees proceed through the city. The actual Santo Nino given by Magellan will be a part of the procession. Participants amass around 1:30pm at Basilica del Santo Nino.  You can go to the church and participate in the procession if you like. You can even take your own Santo Nino if you wish.  It is far to long of a walk for me so I will be observing. My hotel is near the route of the procession and I will be able to walk to that.

On Sunday, Cebuanos will break out the pageantry of the festival with bright colors and dance along the parade route. The dancers will perform at the Cebu City Sports Complex and I’d like to be there for this    part of the event. I’ll just have to see how things play out.

Sinulog DancerOn Sunday there are two masses related to Sinulog, the first one starts at 4AM. I surely would like to see both of the Masses but that is a little early for me. The second one starts at 6AM. The Grand Parade leaves the Basilica del Santo Nino at 9AM and ends with a big fireworks show at 7Pm at the Cebu City Sports Center. At 7:30pm its is back to Fuente Osmeña for a Street Party with bands. I plan to operate on Filipino time and get to where I want to be as I get there. I have no strong plans and will just have to see how things play out this year.

Each night this week there will be events both on the avenue and Fuente Osmeña Circle. There will be cultural events, concerts, band competitions, dance competition, crowning of Ms. Cebu that occur in these locations.

Each year the theme of the event is “One Beat, One Dance, One Vision.” There are also variations of the theme and this year it is Cebu the “City of Culture.” Cebu City is the first city to be awarded this prestigious award from the ASEAN City of Culture award. Something Cebuanos are very proud of and with as they should be. Way to go Cebu!

Sinulog is a holiday many small business in Cebu City and schools throughout Cebu Province will be closed. I don’t know about government agencies but I would think most in Cebu City would be closed. If not closed, they may very well be low on staff.

There is a free guide that you can download to your PC or Kindle compliant device. You don’t have to have a Kindle. Amazon has an application known as Kindle for PC that you can download for free from Amazon. You can get the guide here.

Of course, there will be a follow up article after my return from Cebu City. It should include many pictures. In fact, I bought this used DSLR specifically with Sinulog in mind. It worked out pretty good since the last pictures I took with  my prior camera where mostly unusable. I’m looking forward to my first Sinulog. We made our reservations back in July! You should make them very early if you want to go next year. I’m already looking forward to Sinulog in 2013.

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Filed under: Cebu Holiday

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