Cebu Sinulog Festival

Cebu Santo Niño Sinulog Festival


Cebu Sinulog Festival is local fiesta originated from Cebu City in honour of the Santo Niño. The feast is held annually on the third Sunday of January. The religious feast is considered as one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines, it generates a number of local and foreign tourists that flocks the city to join the street procession that also serve as a major cultural celebration among the community.

Cebu Sinulog Festival
Participants in the Sinulog festival in Cebu Philippines.
Photo by: @kobbydagan (Instagram)

Cebu is known for its dried mangoes, Cebu lechon, and the Sinulog festival. The native dance of Sinulog commemorates the acceptance of the Filipino to Christianity, more specifically the Catholicism, in replace and rejection of their beliefs to animalism (worship of nature). In 1521, Cebu ruler Rajah Humabon and his queen Amihan (Humamay) were baptized along with their subjects, becoming Carlos and Juana of Cebu, thus the first conversion to Roman Catholics presided.

The term “sinulog” comes from the Cebuano adverb sulog which means “river current,” which pertains to dance steps similar to a river’s push and pull current. The main highlight of the festival is the grand street parade that lasts almost a whole day, where the Sinulog participants are draped with flamboyant costumes, usually identical to the Sto. Niño they display on parade. Costume creation are not limited to Sto. Niño patterns, the participants produce their own rendition of “Sto. Niño wear.” The design of the dresses varies from angels to martyrs. They make use of elaborate items and creative materials. During the parade, these flashy costumes were exhibit with dance and tunes of native gongs, trumpets, and drums. On the last day of the Sinulog festival, people embrace the ritual called the “Fluvial Procession” is held. A water parade with a pump boat is adorn with flowers and candles to honour the Sto. Niño riding on it.

The Sinulog dance moves are basically two steps forward and one step backward as the dancer sways to a distinct rhythm of drums. This movement resembles the current (Sulog) of what was known as Cebu’s Pahina River.

Sinulog is the ritual prayer-dance honoring Señor Santo Niño or the Child Jesus. An image of the Santo Niño is said to be the baptismal gift the Portuguese conquistador Ferdinand Magellan gave Hara Amihan (Humanay) of Zebu (now Cebu) in April 1521. The image, believed to be miraculous, is housed at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in downtown Cebu City.


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