Cebu's biggest festival is held in honor of the holy image Señor Santo Niño de Cebu. It is the festival that links the country's pagan past to its Christian present.
Tradition has it that Cebuanos were already dancing the Sinulog before the arrival of the European explorers, in honor of their wooden idols and anitos (spirits in animals and plants.) It was a dance for harvest time, or a plea for help during times of need.
In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan "discovered" the Philippines. Magellan supposedly gave an image of the Child Jesus to Hara Amihan, wife of the ruler of Cebu. At the first Catholic mass celebrated in the country, she was baptized as Queen Juana. The rulers and 800 of their subjects were baptized. Shortly after the conversion, Magellan recklessly started a fight with the ruler of Mactan, Rajah Lapu-lapu, and was killed in the encounter.
Forty-four years later in 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi returned to colonize the Philippines. While Legazpi's soldiers burned the Mactan village, the people fled to the mountains. In one of the burning huts, a soldier found among the native idols a wooden box. Inside this box were seven boxes, one inside the other. In the seventh box was the image of the Santo Niño. Legazpi gave the statue to the Augustinian fathers who came with him from Spain.
According to a 1565 document stored in the archives of the Santo Niño Convent of Cebu, eyewitnesses testified that the image found inside the small pine box was preserved in almost perfect condition. It had on a little shirt and cap; two of its right fingers were raised in a gesture of blessing, while the left hand held a globe.
Before 1980, Sinulog was purely a religious ritual performed within the confines of the Basilica Santo Niño, usually by older women holding candles or a copy of the statuette of the original Santo Niño image in their uplifted hands. The dance consisted of alternating forward and backward dance steps, hands elevated while performing the dance, to endow the statue with the blessings of the child Jesus. They were accompanied by boys with snare drums beating out the distinctive Sinulog beat. In 1980 the Cebu Sinulog was organized into a parade, assuming the status of a cultural parade consisting of dancers, floats, and higantes. It was a small parade which just circled the Basilica, but it caught the imagination of the City of Cebu. It has evolved into one of the biggest festivals in the country, consisting of two aspects: the religious ritual and the street spectacle. Hundreds of thousands participate in the week-long festival, culminating in a Grand Parade of wild colors and the constant beating of drums to the yells of "Sinulog / Siyagit og kusog / Pit Señor / Kang Christo kini!" ("Sinulog / Shout it loud / Praise Jesus / Sir Christ here!")
Schedule of Sinulog 2004 Events
(Just a partial listing of too many to list)
|Friday January 9||Solemn Mass||Basilica Santo Niño|
|Saturday January 10||Sinulog ka Kabataan Competition||Cebu City Sports Complex|
|Sunday January 11||Sugbayanihan - Longest Grill in the world||Osmeña Boulevard|
|Monday January 12||Street Party Band Concert||Fuente Osmeña Circle|
|Tuesday January 13||Cultural Show: Dep. Ed., UC, USC||Cebu City Sports Complex|
|Wednesday January 14||Cultural Show: ST, USJR & SWU Dance Troupes||Fuente Osmeña Circle|
|Thursday January 15||Miss Cebu 2004||Grand Ballroom, Waterfront Hotel|
|Friday January 16||Balik Cebu Welcome Party Program||Ayala Lagoon|
|Saturday January 17||Fluvial Parade of the Miraculous Image of the Santo Niño||Mandaue to Cebu City passing the port of LapuLapu City|
|Saturday January 17||Solemn Procession of Miraculous Image of the Santo Niño||Basilica Sto. Niño through Cebu, and return|
|Sunday January 18||Sinulog 2004 Grand Parade||Streets of Cebu City|
|Monday January 19||Award Ceremonies & Repeat Performance of Winners||Cebu City Sports Complex|
Next: 3. Fluvial Parade