Festival reflects faith in the Cebuano: writer-historian-A A +A
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
MORE than a term for the dance performed in honor of the Sto. Niño and the annual festival, the Sinulog reflects the faith and the life of the Cebuano people, a writer-historian said.
“It’s a faith that has survived. It’s a faith that is not limited to religious faith.
Ultimately, it is faith in the Cebuano,” said Erlinda Alburo, former director of the Cebuano Studies Center at the University of San Carlos.
“Through the Sinulog, in all its activities from the reenactment of the first baptism, to the procession on foot and fluvial as well as the mardi gras, the Pop Music (Festival) and Sinulog film festivals and exhibits, Cebuanos celebrate life itself,” she said.
Cebuanos are known to shorten words by eliminating the letter “L”, so that the term “sinulog”, for example, is often shortened to “sinug”. The term means “in the manner of the water current or sulog.”
Alburo said there are two forms of the Cebuano prayer dance, namely the feminine dance form or sinulog of tinderas, using simple steps, and the masculine or sinug form, which is more complicated and includes some jumps and turns.
On the linguistic element of the terms, Alburo said the sinug ritual is related to “sulogsulog” that connotes teasing or the abuse of naivete, or “hadla”, the intent to amuse.
“Sinulog came about to describe the gentle bobbing of a river current, to which the simpler stepping is compared,” Alburo said.
“Nang Titang Diola herself distinguishes between the natural and the kinampilan steps.
These contrasts have somehow come together in the grand parade,” she added.
She referred to Estelita “Nang Titang” Diola, now in her 80s, who learned the sinug from her father and has, herself, taught it to younger generations. Diola’s troupe performs the more complicated “sinug.”
Alburo said the term “sinulog” may be taken as a synonym for “moro-moro” because outside Cebu, the term refers to a war dance.
Quoting from a book on music and dance by Francisca Aquino, published in 1948, Alburo said the sinulog movement is a “forward leaping movement of either the left or right foot, while the hind or rear foot is slightly flexed as the front foot lands on the floor simultaneously and with slight forward bending of the body.”
The term sinug, meanwhile, as claimed by Sto. Niño devotee and educator Jose “Dodong” Gullas, is the authentic prayer dance.
“Kung mag-Sinug, maggunit og kandila unya ikindang-kindang and hawak unya mo abante og kausa unya atras og kaduha dungan ang pagbatbat sa pasasalamat, pag-ampo og pagdayeg (One who offers the Sinug holds a candle, takes a step forward, then two stops back, while chanting prayers of thanksgiving and praise),” she said, quoting an 2007 article by Gullas.
“Both Gullas and Nang Titang criticize the parade practice of holding up the image of the Sto. Niño during the whole dance, as choreographer Mike Gonzales said, ‘kay malipong sad intawon ang bata nga sige’g uyog-uyog (because all that waving might make the Child dizzy),” Alburo said.
Jocelyn Gerra, culture and heritage executive director of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., said the question on the differences between the two terms doesn’t focus on which one is authentic.
“But these practices reflect a society that has changed though time,” she said.
Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA, who gave a reaction to yesterday’s talks, pointed out that the basis of the dance and the celebration in general is the people’s faith.
“The root of the celebration is always the Child Jesus,” he said.
An environment conservationist, he added that with the cultural dance related to the movement of the river, there must be an effort to revive the rivers in the city.
“We would have a difficult time identifying the dance with the river, because there are no longer rivers. These have dried up. We should restore our rivers,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 17, 2012.