FOR Cebuanos, the third Sunday of January is a time of revelry and reverence. The 452nd Fiesta of Sto. Niño is finally here and everyone is feeling excited with what’s in store for today.
From Ferdinand Magellan’s visit in 1521 to today, the celebration of Fiesta Senyor has gone through overhauls as it succumbs to be in with the times while still preserving the hundred years’ worth of culture and tradition.
Check out prime events through the years that led to today’s celebration of the Sinulog Festival.
On April 7, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan’s crew came to our shores and presented Queen Juana with a gift upon her conversion to the Christian faith. This gift was the original wooden image of Sto. Nino.
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi led the sixth expedition to the Philippines following Magellan’s and arrived in Cebu on April 28, 1565. His crew brought havoc to the village, which was said to be along “Sawang,” presently in the vicinity of San Nicolas, Cebu City.
One of Legazpi’s soldiers, Juan Camus, found inside one of the burning huts the image of the Sto. Niño in a wooden box, lying alongside native idols.
Legazpi entrusted the image of Sto. Niño to the Augustinian Fathers who proclaimed it as their “guide and protector.”
David S. Odilao Jr., then the Regional Director of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (MYSD), organized the first ever Cebu Sinulog Festival Grand Parade. He gathered a team of physical education teachers from different schools in Cebu City in enhancing the famous Sinulog dance, which mimicked the movement of the candle vendors at the Basilica.
In January, seven schools and universities participated in the first festival, namely: University of San Carlos, Southwestern University, University of San Jose-Recoletos, University of Cebu, University of Southern Philippines, Cebu Institute of Technology and Cebu Doctors’ University.
To differentiate the festival from the popular Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan, the organizers decided to use the parade to tell the historical background of the Sinulog, which is the dance that links the Philippines’ pagan origins and their acceptance of the Christian faith.
Seven floats were made to depict seven varied periods of history, which were followed by dancers who wore costumes of their specific period. They all danced to one beat.
The installation of the Balik-Cebu Program and the creation of direct flights from San Francisco, USA to Cebu, Philippines packed millions of pilgrims and thousands of foreign visitors into our beloved Queen City.
The Sinulog Grand Parade could now be seen live by international audiences through TV broadcast and Webcast. The live cast of the festival could be seen in the U.S. mainland, Australia, and some parts in Europe and Asia.
This year, from six kilometers, the route for the Sinulog Grand Parade has been shortened to four kilometers. This is so the 25 contingents may be able to rest early and, for security reasons, for the parade to end early. This is the shortest parade route for the festival. Right after the parade, the winners will immediately be announced.
Five thousand people, which includes soldiers from the Armed Forces and police, will secure the streets of Cebu City. Security is the utmost priority during the festivities, so revelers and devotees alike may celebrate the feast of Sto. Niño in a peaceful and orderly manner. A liquor and gun ban has been imposed for added security measures and will run until the end of the Sinulog activities on Jan. 20.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 15, 2017.
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