Sinulog through the years

sinulog 2023 contingents

Sinulog Festival performers. | CDN 2018 FILE PHOTO

MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — There is now an ongoing discussion as to whether to push through with the use of the South Road Properties (SRP) as the venue for this year’s Sinulog grand parade and ritual showdown.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia already voiced out her opinion on the matter on Monday, Jan. 9, to say that now might not be the right time to change the venue of the festival that was in honor of the Señor Sto. Niño.

“Mas maayo siguro nga magtraditional lang sa ta. Kay, after all, Sinulog is part of our tradition, and tried and tested na ang atong mga pamaagi through all of these years,” she had said in an earlier interview.

(It would be better if we just go the traditional way. Because, after all, Sinulog is part of our tradition, and this is the a tried and tested way through all of these years.)

Ricky Ballesteros, former executive director of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI), had also said that the SRP was not yet ready to host the festival this year, something which could be done in the future.

READ: Ballesteros: SRP not ready to accommodate Sinulog grand parade

He said that the Cebu City Sports Center that had served as the venue for the ritual showdown since 1996 would remain to be the best “alternative” to the proposed venue at the SRP.

Aside from having a 14x 14 meter stage, the standard for a Sinulog ritual showdown stage, the area is also accessible to everyone while it has all the facilities needed to accommodate the participating contingents and spectators, including comfort rooms.

Talisay City Central School contingent performs at the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan competition held at the Cebu City Sports Center in this Jan. 7, 2017 photo. | CDN file photo

But how and when did the ritual showdown start at the CCSC grandstand stage?


Here is a timeline which Ballesteros shared on his social media page:

1980 – The first Sinulog grand parade that was organized David “boy” Odilao, who is considered as the Father of the Sinulog, was held.

It was performed around Basilica del Sto Niño with participants coming from eight different colleges and universities led by the late former SFI Project Director, the late  Dolores “Dolly” Suzara  who was also the head of Cebu Physical Education Association then.

1981 – The grand parade was held from the Cebu Capitol to Plaza Independence under the leadership of former Cebu City Mayor Florentino Solon.

1982 – Organizers decided to transfer the grand parade to the old Lahug Airport now known as the Cebu IT Park .

This was done after the visit of the Pope John Paul II  (now Saint John Paul II) in Cebu where  he celebrated an open-air Mass at the former Lahug airport.

The Pope came to Cebu in February 1981 to beatify Lorenzo Ruiz.

Organizers used the main templet, where the Pope held the mass, as the Sinulog stage.

And since the area was so big, dancers and spectators alike complained of the heat. There were also no portable toilets, and tents used for shelter were very limited.

1983- 1984 – The grand parade was again held from the Capitol to Plaza Independencia.

1985 to 1989 – SFI decided to change the route of the parade from Plaza Independencia to the location of the old White Gold House, an iconic mall in Cebu City in the 80s.  The structure was gutted by a huge fire in the 90s and was recently demolished to clear the area.

1990 – The route of the Sinulog grand parade was again changed. It started at the old  White Gold House  and culminated at the North Reclamation Area (NRA).

The change in venue was made as  a means to promote the NRA lot to investors.

That year, the parade followed a semi carousel route. Its main stage was located in front of White Gold House while judges were positioned on the windows of the White Gold House Restaurant.

During this time, the late Juan ” Dodong” Aquino, who was also the former Chairman of Cebu City Sports Commission, was the executive director of the SFI.

However, spectators and dancers complained of the new route because it did not have any trees.  The area was very hot and dusty; thus, many of the dancers and spectators fainted.

1991 to 1994 – The grand parade returned to its old route from Plaza Independencia  to the old White Gold House.

1995 – The Sinulog was held at the Cebu Business Park with its stage placed in front of Seda Hotel Ayala and City Sports Club.

Dancing was held after the opening of Ayala Center Cebu.

Organizers had a makeshift grandstand, which was made of wood, built in the area.  The grandstand was filled with spectators and started to shake when spectators started to dance the Sinulog beat.

People occupying the bleachers also started to go down because of their fear that these would collapse.

1996 to present – Organisers used the CCSC stage as the final performance area for the participating contingents.

The parade then started at White Gold House and culminated at the CCSC stage.

And from 2001 to present, under the leadership of now Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama as the SFI Chairman, the grand parade followed a 6.3 kilometer  carousel route that would also lead to the CCSC.

Ballesteros said identifying a new route for the grand parade and the use of the SRP as venue for the ritual showdown was a welcome idea, but its implementation in this year’s Sinulog was still too soon.


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TAGS: Cebu City, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, Ricky Ballesteros, SFI, Sinulog, timeline
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