Posted January 17, 2006on:
The Sinulog mardi gras every 3rd Sunday of January is the culmination of the feast in honor of the Holy Child Jesus we endearingly call as the Sto. Nino. Even before the novena masses start, everyone seems to be on high-mode. The City gets decked up with colored buntings along the parade route. Replicas of Cebu’s Sto Nino Church or the Sto Nino icon crop up along the Fuente Osmena Circle. Ah yes, of course, the advertising companies are having the time of their lives busily hyping different events and street parties.
On the Saturday preceding the Sinulog, the biggest religious procession in the city takes place a little after lunch. It starts from the Basilica and passes through the commercial districts of downtown and uptown Cebu and goes back to starting point. Thousands of devotees flock to participate in this annual pilgrimage watching the re-enactment of the 1st baptism or the changing of the Sto Nino’s clothes, praying, venerating and waving to the 500 year old Sto Nino. It is praise-worthy that the crowd was well-organized inspite of the humongous traffic jam the re-routing of vehicles has caused. All for the love of the Holy Child.
Saturday night after the religious procession, the city comes more alive with concerts and live band music in every open space. It’s the start of the street partying. It is common to find yourself stuck in traffic at 12 midnight. This is party night for the Cebuanos and everyone seems to be out on the streets.
Early Sunday, even after staying up late the night before, people attend mass and gear up for the big mardi gras. The biggest parade of about a hundred dancing contingents from different schools, organizations, companies, and groups representing Metro Manila and provinces as far as Surigao del Norte assure everyone of a display of colors and dance routines well up to the early evening.
We tried to go as near as we could to watch the parade, but with 3 kids in tow, it was close to impossible. We were getting squashed by people from all sides. If your intention is to see the complete parade then you’re better off watching the live coverage on tv. However, most of the people on the streets were not there to seriously watch but were there just to take in the sights and sounds as well as the whole gamut of fiesta atmosphere permeating in the air. Cars are parked everywhere and families were setting up camp in the fields and open space of the Cebu Business Park. There was a helicopter for rent for those who could afford and would want to view the mardi gras from above. People in black shirts with headdresses or whistles or face paints are a common site.
After the last of the dancing contingents has performed, the big event is capped with fireworks display. The best place to be at 930pm after the Sinulog is anywhere in the open spaces of Cebu Business Park where everyone is sure to be treated to a 3o-minute show of spectacular pyrotechnics.
If I keep on with the account of the Sinulog, I may not be able to fully describe the sights, sounds, smell and general atmosphere of this annual event. Rather than read or hear about it, it’s best to experience it and get yourself immersed for a day or two. However, this much I could tell you, the Sinulog is most probably the biggest event the Cebuanos celebrate in a year, perhaps even bigger than Christmas and New Year combined.
Viva Pit Senyor!