Saturday, June 18, 2011

Experience the Sinulog Festival

Sinulog is a dance ritual in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Niño. The dance is performed to seek help from the Santo Niño and to thank Him for favors and blessings received.

The word Sinulog is a Visayan term to the local dance that follows the rhythm of the river flow (Sulog). It has come down in history as the enduring native expression of prayer bridging the pagan years and Christian era today.

Sinulog was already danced by the natives in honor of their wooden idols and anitos when Portugese navigators came to Cebu on April 7, 1521 to plant the cross on its shore and claim the country for the King of Spain. When Magellan came to introduce Christianity, he gave the Santo Niño as baptismal gift to Queen Juana, wife of Rajah Humabon. Shortly thereafter Magellan was killed in the battle of Mactan. It took 44 years before a new group came and started the formal Christianization of the islands. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived in Cebu on April 28, 1565. Historians say that in between years of the coming of Magellan and Legaspi, the natives continued to dance the Sinulog. By this time, they danced not to worship their native idols but to signify their reverence to the Santo Niño, now enshrined at the San Agustin Church (renamed Basilica Minore del Santo Niño).

Through the years since 1521, the dance was a small ritual danced by a few in front of the Santo Niño. Only the candle vendors could be seen dancing the Sinulog and making offering. It was not until 1980 when the then Director of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, David S. Odilao Jr., organized the first ever Sinulog parade. It was just a small parade which went just around the Basilica which caught the attention of the city government and the rest as we say is history which made Sinulog the country's biggest spectacle.

The celebration traditionally lasts for nine days, culminating on the ninth day when the Sinulog Grand Parade unfolds. The day before the parade, the Fluvial Procession, a water-parade, held at dawn from the Mandaue City wharf to Cebu City wharf with the Santo Niño carried on a pump boat decked with hundreds of flowers and candles. The procession ends at the Basilica where a re-enactment of the Christianizing of Cebu follows. In the afternoon, a more solemn procession takes place along the major streets of the city, which last for hours due to large crowd participating in the religious event.

On the feast day, at the Basilica, a Pontifical Mass is celebrated by the Cardinal with the assistance of several bishops of Cebu. The majority of the city’s population and devotees would flock to the Basilica to attend the mass before heading out to the streets to watch the Parade.


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