Sinulog Festival Fever, Only in the Philippines
By Hannah Angni
Every year, during the third week of January, the streets of Cebu City in the Philippines come alive with the Sinulog Festival.
What started as a religious procession to honor the Sto. Niño has become one of the biggest events in the country, drawing hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. This popular event celebrates the country’s rich history and vibrant culture with colorful parades, lively music and dance performances, and plenty of delicious food.
Before the pandemic, at least three million believers and revelers flock to the Queen City of the South. They want to observe the traditional festival and the beauty of the culture that it represents. Sinulog is not just a religious festival; it also serves as an opportunity for Cebuano artists to showcase their creativity and artistry.
The participants offer spectacular performances and a grandiose celebration that continues to captivate local and international visitors. If you’re looking for an experience that’s distinctly Filipino, there’s no better time or place to be than Cebu during Sinulog.
Here are the most exciting activities you can enjoy during the Sinulog Festival
Sinulog Grand Floats
Sinulog in Cebu City is known for its long parade of floats. These floats are decorated in a very extravagant and flamboyant way. Each of them is usually represented by a specific city, town, or municipality. Those floats will be filled with celebrities, pageant winners, and major public figures who will be there to celebrate.
Sinulog Street Dance Competition
Along with the float parade, are the participants in the street dance competition. The participants are dressed in colorful costumes that will walk or dance their way up to the streets to celebrate the feast day. Celebrity judges will award cash prizes and other special awards to dancers from all over Cebu or nearby areas.
“You can feel it happening in Cebu, even if you’re just watching on TV,” said Jane Gomez, a Sinulog participant. She is not alone when she says that. A lot of people are excited about this activity because aside from getting to watch the event on TV, they can also see it happening just right outside their doorsteps.
Sinulog is a Festival for Foodies
Sinulog is a great time for foodies because of all the amazing street food available. From the famous Lechon to Suman, you’re sure to have a blast enjoying all of these original treats. Several restaurants offer special promos and discounts to those who want to enjoy Sinulog with family and friends.
Choosing the Sinulog Festival Queen
Beauty pageants are without a doubt popular in the Philippines, and the Sinulog Festival is no exception. The search for “Sinulog Festival Queen” is one of the most awaited pageants every year. Local Cebuanos get to show off their beauty and brains by being a part of this competition. The winner of the pageant gets to represent Cebu in different festivals around the Philippines.
Sinulog Street Parties
Parties are everywhere during the festival. These parties are held in different parts of Cebu and attract a lot of visitors who want to get the feel of Sinulog fever. As a result, the city government closes roads for cars and other motor vehicles during the event to make it easier for people to party.
Sinulog sa Kabataan
This one is for the young ones. It gives children the chance to showcase their talent and creativity through fun craft projects related to Sinulog. The participants are expected to present their artworks together with a dance presentation that will highlight important figures in Philippine history.
Sinulog Live Bands
This is the time to celebrate with the locals. Join the party while enjoying live music performed by local bands. The performances are free of charge and you can choose from a variety of genres, ranging from rock to jazz.
Sinulog Famous Fireworks Display
Ending the festivities with fireworks is a great way to celebrate the victory of good over evil. This is the time when you get to feel the excitement in the air and see everyone enjoying themselves.
With the recent destruction caused by super typhoon Odette and fear of an Omicron-variant in Cebu, Sinulog was once again a virtual celebration this year. A motorcade carrying the image of Sto Niño was the only physical activity conducted. Although the Sinulog Festival is just a simple festival, it gives Filipinos the opportunity to celebrate and experience Cebu’s unique way of life.
Some take part in the festivities virtually, while others stay indoors. Despite how they celebrate the festival, it brings everyone together to bond with their families and enjoy its festivities.
Filipinos, as well as foreigners, miss celebrating such occasions the same way they did before. Pandemic helped us realize that when you lose something, you realize how valuable it was. Like Sinulog, which was epic, fun, and memorable.
“It’s not really about what we do during the Sinulog Festival,” said Mary Manlupig. “It’s about the experience.” Additionally, many artists create YouTube videos to commemorate this event, so those who were not able to attend before the pandemic can view them to learn more about how the Sinulog festival is celebrated. Hopefully, the pandemic will be over as soon as possible so that Cebu may once again host the biggest event as before and experience Sinulog festival fever on a personal level.
Hannah Angni is a VEED content marketer with a passion for travel and experiencing new things. She shares her passion for learning about diverse cultures through her work as a professional content developer.