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#CDNFiestaSeñor2022: Syagit ug Sangpit, the Sinulog festival of yesteryears

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | January 16,2022 - 09:00 AM

Sinulog online

Instead of a live street dancing during the Sinulog 2021 Grand Parade which it considers risky, the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is instead recommending pre-filmed performances for Cebu’s premier festivity. | CDN file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Sinulog festival is one of the grandest festival of the Philippines celebrated every third Sunday in January as a devotion to the Señor Sto. Niño.

Began in 1980 by a crowd of 200 college students from various universities, the festival was born to be a symbol of both faith and culture of Cebuanos.

READ: 40 years of Sinulog, the making of one of the country’s grandest festivals

Former Customs Collector David “Boy” Odilao Jr., who is also known as the father of the Sinulog festival, said they created the Sinulog Festival as a halad to the Señor Sto. Niño, far from the mardi gras it had evolved to in the years that followed.

Yet for many Cebuanos, the Sinulog Festival is a time for families and friends to gather, celebrate their faith, and celebrate their being Sugbuanons.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Philippines on February 2020, the Sinulog Festival turned 40 years with one of its grandest festival yet celebrated on January 18, 2020.

It was the first time an incumbent President attended the festival with President Rodrigo Duterte gracing the Cebu City Sports Complex during the Sinulog Grand Showdown to deliver a speech before the festival ended.

The 40th Sinulog would be the last time people saw a full blown street party before the pandemic would close the city down for more almost two years now.

Sinulog sa Kabataan

Among the highlights of the Sinulog Festival are the different dance shows that are held days, even weeks, prior to the Grand Festival on third Sunday of January.

The Sinulog sa Kabataan for Lalawigan (province) and Dakbayan (city) respectively is among the most sought after event of the festival as it features school-age children dancing to the rhythm of the drums in colorful costumes.

Oftentimes, they represent their schools and barangays not only in Cebu City but also of neighboring local government units (LGUs) such as Mandaue City, Talisay City, Lapu-Lapu City, Toledo City, and Carcar City.

Carcar City is among the crowd favorites, winning the most 2020 Sinulog Kabataan sa Lalawigan. Another crowd favorite is Talisay City, which placed second to Carcar in 2020.

Aside from the ritual showdown, awards are given to other categories such as Best Street Dancing, Best in Costume, and Best in Musicality.

Banay Labangon has won the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan 2019 with their concept of putting Señor Sto. Niño at the center of the life of every Filipino family. They brought home P350,000 cash and competed in the Sinulog Based Category on the Grand Sinulog celebration on Sunday, January 20, 2019.| CDN FILE PHOTO/ Marc Eric Cosep

Sinulog sa Dakbayan and Lalawigan

The Sinulog sa Dakbayan and Lalawigan is another the adult version of the Sinulog sa Kabataan, still held in preparation for the Grand Parade.

This Sinulog sa Dakbayan is a showdown between barangays in Cebu City, while Sinulog sa Lalawigan is a showdown between local government units (LGUs) in Cebu Province.

The winners for each category will get a chance to compete in the Grand Parade a week after.

Among the crowd favorites in the Sinulog sa Dakbayan is Cebu City’s pride, Tribu Lumad Basakanon. A grandslammer, the group also won the last Sinulog 2020.

This May 2022, they will display its world-class talent in South Korea to perform in the 2022 Daegu Colorful Festival in Daegu, South Korea, together with groups from Japan, Russia, and Singapore.

READ: #CDNFiestaSeñor2022: Lumad Basakanon of Cebu to bring Sinulog Festival to South Korea on May 2022

San Nicolas Proper contingent during the Sinulog sa Barangay sa Dakbayan competition on January 13. /Contributed photo

Festival Queen

The Festival Queen is another integral part of the Sinulog Festival. It is the main pageant of the Sinulog Festival with the Queens of each contingent showcasing their grace and beauty.

The Queen of a contingent is symbol of Reyna Juana, the wife of Rajah Humabon, who accepted the Holy Image of the Child Jesus from Ferdinand Magellan and his fleet as an offering.

Reyna Juana was the the first to convert to Christianity and is often portrayed in the Sinulog showdown as the center of the dance performance.

In 2020, Monika Jane Afable of Tribu Rayhak Borongan City, Province of Eastern Samar, won the pageant.

Monika Fable of Borongan City, Eastern Samar is this year’s Cebu Festival Queen winner. /Gerard Vincent Francisco

Grand Parade

The biggest event of the Sinulog would always be the Grand Parade. The parade would cover most of the downtown area from the City Sports Complex at the start and end of the street dancing.

Osmeña Boulevard, General Maxilom Avenue, Natalio Bacalso Avenue, Imus Street, and the Fuente Osmeña Circle are the major points of the parade where judges and audience wait on the route for the contingents.

The Sinulog showdown is not only for group contingents from Cebu and other provinces in the country, but also for floats and Higantes (giant puppets).

This Game of Thrones-themed float wins 3rd place in the 2018 Sinulog Festival. | Contributed photo by Imaginative Concepts FB page

Floats of national broadcasting networks such as GMA and ABS-CBN are most looked forward to as they often brought celebrities of their latest primetime shows.

Even brands would spend hundred thousands to showcase their products in grandiose floats of varying themes.

Higantes and their puppeteers would tower over the parade route greeting the audience from all over as they dance with the Sinulog beat.

Participants of this year’s Sinulog Puppeteer competition were assured of double the amount of prizes for this year’s Sinulog event by the Sinulog Foundation Inc.
CDN File Photo

The eight hour parade will end with fireworks display at the Cebu City Sports Complex with a grand performance by the Cebu City government and Capitol.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia had made it her halad to dance during the Sinulog Festival as a form of devotion and gratitude to the Señor Sto. Niño.

Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia dances with the Siloy Festival of Alcoy, a guest contingent in the Sinulog 2020 grand parade held at the Cebu City Sports Center on Jan. 19, 2020. | Capitol Photo/ Tonee Despojo

Party like it’s Sinulog

Yet the activities of the Sinulog Festival are not only confined to street dancing and contingents. There are also other public activities and contests separate to the Fiesta Señor theme such as Cebu Pop Music Festival.

National pop artists hold concerts here and celebrities flock to Cebu to join the Sinulog fever and many parties are held days prior to the Sinulog Festival.

Cebu City becomes a party hub during the Sinulog season with hotels, bars, restaurants, and businesses taking advantage of the festivities to hold marketing gigs and promos.

The parties have become so rampant during the Sinulog that in 2020, late Mayor Edgardo Labella had prohibited parties to be hedl within 300 meters of the Sinulog grand parade route.

On Sinulog Day, the streets of downtown Cebu would be filled with henna artists, T-shirt peddlers, vendors of festival masks and accessories, all accessible for the public to join the Sinulog spirit.

The Sinulog Festival is the most colorful day of Cebu City.

People gather along Mango Avenue for the post-Sinulog street party in last year’s Sinulog celebration (CDN FILE PHOTO).

A celebration of faith

Yet despite the fun and grandeur of the Sinulog Festival, the center of the celebration remains to be the Señor Sto. Niño.

As people lay out banderitas on the streets, decorate floats and puppets, and don colorful costumes and headdresses, each and every one of these has the single element that holds the festival together: The Child Jesus.

In every street corner where people are partying, there will always be an altar for the Sto. Niño adorned with bouquets of flowers and lighted with candles as people remember what they are truly celebrating for.


#CDNFiestaSeñor2022: How a devotee celebrates Fiesta Señor amid the pandemic

#CDNFiestaSeñor2022: Lumad Basakanon of Cebu to bring Sinulog Festival to South Korea on May 2022

#CDNFiestaSeñor2022: Keeping the faith alive

#CDNFiestaSeñor2022: Gwen to continue Sinulog dance, prays for Cebu’s recovery, protection

#CDNFiestaSenor2022: Venerating the Holy Child Then & Now 

#CDNFiestaSeñor2022: From a dancing devotee to the official photographer of the Sinulog Festival



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TAGS: COVID-19 pandemic, Fiesta Señor, Sinulog Festival

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