Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands


Posted by butalidnl on 10 January 2011

The Sinulog is an annual festival held every third Sunday of January, in honor of the Child Jesus (Santo Nino). The celebration of Sinulog takes 9 days, culminating in the Sinulog Grand Parade.  The days leading to the climax are marked by parades, novenas, and a whole array of concerts and other events all over the city. The whole city, even province of Cebu is fully into Sinulog – people greet each other with “Pit Senyor”; and houses retain their Christmas decorations till Sinulog – making Sinulog an extension of Christmas. And families hold parties in honor of the Sto Nino. It is a grand fiesta in the best of Philippine tradition.

While it may seem like a huge  touristic event, it has grown into something much more than that.  It is religious, cultural and very modern.  The Grand Parade features groups from all over the Visayas who present their versions of the Sinulog Dance. But the Grand Parade is not all that is Sinulog. In fact, we could say that the Novenas and the Procession are integral and very important parts of the Sinulog celebration. Sinulog combines religion, politics and show-bizz, and in this is its power – there is something for everyone.

The Sinulog theme “One Beat, One Dance, One Vision” is not just just a slogan, it is literally true. The Sinulog beat and dance are literally the same all throughout, and by the end of the festival you will have heard it literally a thousand times. It is indeed “one beat and one dance”. The vision is one of continued progress for Cebu/Visayas; this is a semi-political message that permeates Sinulog: about Cebu/Visayans self-confidence and optimism about the future.

This vision is also what I think makes the Sinulog a very modern festival. It is optimistic, it is a thanksgiving celebration. It is not the and penitence-driven kind of religious festival in other regions (e.g. the Black Nazarene). It is a celebration of God’s bounty bestowed on Cebu and the Visayas. And indeed, Cebu is booming; and there is much to be thankful for.

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