The 3 Sides of Sinulog You Need to Experience

Sinulog weekend is finally here!

I don’t think the word “”SINULOG” itself needs a lot of introduction as people from all over the world come to Cebu to celebrate what is arguably Asia’s biggest festival. But for the sake of those who don’t know it yet, Sinulog is a celebration to honor the patron saint of Cebu, Señor Santo Niño or the Holy Child Jesus and it is celebrated annually on every 3rd Sunday of January.

Being born and raised in Cebu, I’ve been celebrating Sinulog for as long as I can remember. And in all my years of celebrating the festivities, I have come to realize that what makes Sinulog unique is that it is a 3-dimensional celebration. There’s always something for everyone. Whether you’re here for the first time or you’ve been coming back to Cebu every year to celebrate, this is one big party that never gets old.

When I said 3-dimensional, I meant that there’s 3 different ways you can celebrate Sinulog. The good thing is, over the weekend, it is possible to experience all 3! I’ll share to you how and where to celebrate them. Let this be your guide.

 

1. THE SPIRITUAL SIDE

Sto NiÑo Mass

Photo Credit: Jessie Cubijano

The Philippines is a very religious country and majority of us are Roman Catholics. Every year, hundreds of thousands(maybe even millions) of people visit the island of Cebu to experience the Sinulog Festival. Although it is celebrated during the 3rd Sunday of January, a “Novena” or an offering of prayers and masses for 9 consecutive days is offered to Señor Santo Niño. The masses are held in Basilica Minore Del Santo Niño, the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines. If you want to see how devoted  the Cebuanos are, then you have to visit this Church at any day leading up to the festival itself. You’ll understand how faithful we remain to our patron saint but I have to warn you, our faithfulness and devotion is quite contagious and you might just find yourself waving your hands in the air while singing to the tune of “Bato Balani sa Gugma” even if you don’t really know the words.

Where can I experience the faith?
Basilica Minore Del Santo Niño de Cebu or Commonly known as Santo Niño Church
Address: Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City

 

2. THE FESTIVE SIDE/THE SINULOG GRAND PARADE

Sinulog Street Dancing

Photo Credit: Joseph Cabrera

The Colorful Side of Sinulog. Alright so you’ve experienced the Spiritual side of Sinulog and the 3rd Sunday has come, it’s now time to feast your eyes on the colorful costumes of the street dancers as they dance in perfect sync to the Sinulog beat. Yes, the Sinulog festival has it’s very own distinctive beat and you’ll be hearing the jingle all weekend everywhere in Cebu so don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing to it as well. If you’re not too excited about it yet, add some elegantly designed floats, “gigantes”(giants), masks, costumes, and of course top it all off with the Cebuano’s bright smile to get that unique experience you won’t find anywhere else. Only then will you understand what makes Sinulog “THE FESTIVAL”.
Quick Tip: You might have to walk for hours and it could get really hot and humid so wear light clothes and don’t forget to wear your sunglasses and hats. Or wear a sunblock if you must. It could get really crowded too.

Where can I enjoy colors of the festival?
Because the parade follows a carousel route(contingents start and end in the same place), you can find your spot in any of these places:
Cebu City Sports Center(more commonly known as Abellana to locals) where the Finale is but you need to secure a ticket for a seat at the Grandstand to watch them dance at the stage.
Osmeña Blvd.(Jones Avenue)
Fuente Osmeña Circle
General Maxilom Avenue(Mango Avenue)
M.J. Cuenco Avenue

 

 

3. THE PARTY SIDE

Street Party

Photo Credit: Faith Fuentes

Here’s where it gets really crazy! Cebuanos don’t just party, we party hard! During Sinulog week, tons of parties are happening everywhere in Cebu but it is during the weekend that parties are taken up a notch and the best events happen. From concerts to clubs to open-area music festivals, International DJs, celebrities and party-goers find themselves in Cebu for one big PARTY! And just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier than it already is, Sunday comes and brings a new meaning to the word “PARTY”. Warning: this is not for the faint of heart. Come Sunday, get ready to get loud, bathe in booze and get messy with face paints, henna tattoos and anything you can think of. It’s pure mayhem but in an insanely fun atmosphere. There’s really no way to describe it so you’ll just have to experience it yourself.
Quick Tip: Huge crowds are a paradise for thieves and pickpockets, leave you valuables at home if you want to get crazy sans the worry. And I know alcohol will be flowing on that day but please drink moderately.

Where can I get Crrrrrazy?!
There’s gonna be huge speakers on the sidewalks playing the Sinulog beat and tons of parties are organized in almost every club in Cebu but here are a few places where parties are taken to the NEXT LEVEL:

Juana Osmeña Street, the whole stretch and even the side roads
Mango Avenue – Includes Mango Square Mall, One Mango Place and Fooda
Century Plaza Hotel Parking Area

 

The Sinulog experience is definitely one for the books. You can choose whichever way you want to celebrate it or you can experience all three over the weekend but no matter what, just don’t forget what makes Sinulog, Sinulog and that is who we’re celebrating it for – Our patron saint, our guardian, our Señor Santo Niño de Cebu. Enjoy and stay safe and….

 

 

PIT SEÑOR!

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