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SINULOG FESTIVAL

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SINULOG
Every third weeken of January - Cebu City, Cebu
The Feast of the Sto. Niño is celebrated in Cebu with a procession, street dancing competition and a fluvial parade. Much like the Ati-atihan, the Sinulog Festival is marked by frenzied reverly to the chant of "Pit Senor!"


The Sinulog Festival
The celebration traditionally lasts for nine days, culminating on the ninth day when the Sinulog Grand Parade starts. The day before the parade, the Fluvial Procession, a water-parade, held at dawn from the Mandaue City to Cebu City with the Santo Niño carried on a pump boat decked with hundreds of flowers and candles. The procession ends at the Basilica where a re-enactment of the Christianizing of Cebu follows. In the afternoon, a more solemn procession takes place along the major streets of the city, which last for hours due to large crowd participating in the religious event.

On the feast day, at the Basilica, a Pontifical Mass is celebrated by the Cardinal with the assistance of several bishops of Cebu. The majority of the city’s population and devotees would flock to the Basilica to attend the mass before heading out to the streets to watch the Parade.

'Sinulog' comes from the Cebuano adverb sulog which is "like water current movement," which adeptly describes the forward-backward movement of the Sinulog dance. Traditionally, the dance consists of two steps forward and one step backward, done to the sound of the drums. The dance is categorized into Sinulog-base, Free-Interpretation, and recently a Latin Category, which most people have argued that it had nothing to do with Sinulog tradition. 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.

Pre-Spanish and the First Wave of Spaniards
Historians have noted that before the first Spaniards came to Cebu, the Sinulog was already danced by the natives in honor of their wooden idols called anitos. Then, on April 7, 1521, the Portuguese navigator, Fernando de Magallanes arrived and planted the cross on the shores of Cebu, claiming the territory in the name of the King of Spain. He then presented the image of the child Jesus, the Santo Niño, as baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, wife of Cebu's Rajah Humabon. Hara Amihan was later named, Queen Juana in honor of Juana, Carlos I's mother. Along with the rulers of the island, some 800 natives were also baptized to the Christian faith.

This event is frequently used as basis for most Sinulog dances, which dramatize the coming of the Spaniards and the presentation of the Santo Niño to the Queen. A popular theme among Sinulog dances is Queen Juana holding the Santo Niño in her arms and using it to bless her people who are often afflicted by sickness caused by demons and other evil spirits.

The Coming of Legazpi
After Magellan met his death on April 27, 1521 on the shores of Mactan (ruled by Muslim Rajah Lapu-Lapu), the remnants of his men returned to Spain. However, it took 44 years before the Spaniards achieved some measure of success in colonizing the islands and eventually the whole Philippines.

The conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in Cebu on April 28, 1565 and destroyed the village ruled by Rajah Tupas. In one of the huts of the burning village, one of Legazpi's soldiers named Juan Camus found a wooden box containing the image of the Santo Niño lying amongst several native idols. Historians later said that during the 44 years between the coming of Magellan and Legazpi, the natives of Cebu continued to dance the Sinulog but no longer to worship their anitos but to show their reverence to the Santo Niño.

The Augustinian friars that accompanied Legazpi in his expedition proclaimed the statue miraculous and built a church on the site where it was found. The church was called San Agustin Church but was later renamed to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.

Sinulog Links: Sinulog, Sinulog Documentary


Feasts and Festivals in the Philippines - Holidays in the Philippines
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