About The Sinulog Festival
- Pages: 3
- Word count: 626
- Category: Festival Philippines
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The Sinulog festival is one of the grandest and most colorful festivals in the Philippines with a very rich history. The main festival is held each year on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City to honor the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus, who used to be the patron saint of the whole province of Cebu (since in the Catholic faith Jesus is not a saint, but God). It is essentially a dance ritual which remembers the Filipino people’s pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity. The festival features some the country’s most colorful displays of pomp and pageantry: participants garbed in bright-colored costumes dance to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs. The streets are usually lined with vendors and pedestrians all wanting to witness the street-dancing. Smaller versions of the festival are also held in various parts of the province, also to celebrate and honor the Santo Niño. There is also a Sinulog sa Kabataan, which is performed by the youths of Cebu a week before the Grand Parade. Sinulog is a dance ritual in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Nino.
The dance moves to the sound of the drums and this resembles the current (Sinulog) of what was then known as Cebu’s Pahina River. Thus, in Cebuano, they say it’s Sinulog.More than just the meaning of the word is the significance of the dance. Historians now say that Sinulog, which is of pagan origin, is the link between the country’s pagan past and its Christian present. Let’s trace its history. Historical accounts say that before Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan came to Cebu on April 7, 1521 to plant the cross on its shore and claim the country for the King of Spain, Sinulog was already danced by the natives in honor of their wooden idols and anitos. Then Magellan came and introduced Christianity. He gave the Santo Nino (image of the Child Jesus) as baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, wife of Cebu’s Rajah Humabon who was later named Queen Juana. At that time, not only the rulers were baptized but also about 800 of their subjects.
Unfortunately, however, shortly after the conversion, Magellan went into a reckless adventure by fighting the reigning ruler of Mactan, Rajah Lapulapu, with only a handful of men. He died in the encounter. That was on April 27, 1521. The remnants of Magellan’s men were however able to return to Spain to report the incident and the possibility of conquest. 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. His ships bombarded the village and in one of the burning huts, one of his soldiers named Juan Camus found inside a wooden box the image of the Santo Nino lying side by side with native idols. Historians now say that during the 44 years between the coming of Magellan and Legaspi, the natives continued to dance the Sinulog.
This time however, they danced it no longer to worship their native idols but a sign of reverence to the Santo Nino which is now enshrined at the San Agustin Church ( renamed Basilica Minore del Santo Nino). Of course, through the years since 1521, the dance was a small ritual danced by a few in front of wooden idols or before the Santo Nino. In fact, at the Santo Nino Church where the image is consecrated, only the candle vendors could be seen dancing the Sinulog and making offerings. During the Santo Nino fiesta which falls on the third Sunday of January, children dressed moro-moro costumes also dance the Sinulog. This was really no big event for Cebu City.