AS THE highlight of every start of the year in Cebu, Sinulog is a big time for Cebuanos (and even non-Cebuanos alike). After New Year’s Day, all attention immediately turns toward hanging red and yellow banderitas on the streets and hearing the signature theme song every time one walks into the mall or a restaurant. It’s like the provincial anthem reminding them that it’s almost the third Sunday of the month—the feast of Señor Sto. Niño (the Child Jesus). It’s the time people get busy planning what they’ll do during the fiesta or making preparations for their floats and parade presentations.During that weekend, people fly in from all over the world to join and experience the festivities.
For those who are unfamiliar with all the things there are to do this Sinulog season, here are five options for you. Now, all you have to do is take your pick!
1. Join any of the 9-day Novena masses.
Just like the nine-day Christmas novena masses, the Feast of Señor Sto. Niño also holds its own for those looking to indulge themselves in the faithful discipline. For nine days during the Sinulog season, masses will be held every hour at the Sto. Niño Basilica in downtown Cebu. People say that if the novena is completed, Sto. Niño answers the prayer intention or grants a wish. Unlike the Christmas novena that happens only between 4 to 6 a.m. in any participating parish during the Christmas season, the Sto. Niño novena is held in only one place but almost every hour. This year hundreds of thousands attended mass on the first day of the novena. So some tips to survive (if you’re going while the sun is still out), is to bring an umbrella and a fan and to hydrate heavily. Another tip is to ask around where the entrances and exits are to avoid wandering too far only to realize the entrance was on the other side. Once you’ve prepped up and finished mass, you’ll most probably feel a strong sense of accomplishment and community.
2. Take a walk in the procession.
At different points during the Sinulog week, there will be walks and processions held to honor the child Jesus through even more prayer. Many devotees look forward to this and see it as a chance to showcase the depth of their devotion by walking together and praying in unison. It is definitely something that Catholics should experience at least once. To be in the moment declaring one’s love for the Sto. Niño through prayer and sacrifice has its own kind of charm that sometimes goes beyond comprehension. Although it isn’t for everyone, it’s a very satisfying thing to finish once you’ve done it. If you’re interested, don’t forget to bring an umbrella and a little first-aid kit and water in your backpack. The conditions can get a little intense for people who aren’t used to heat and get social anxiety—but that happens with quite a lot of things in Sinulog.
3. Watch Sinulog dances and presentations during the fluvial parade.
This is the highlight of highlights and a definite must-never-miss during the Sinulog season. Of all the things there are to do, whether you have lived in Cebu your whole life or are visiting it just for the Sinulog parties—the fluvial parade is the biggest thing happening. Specific main roads in the heart of the city will be closed down for it, which says a lot about its importance. Companies, organizations and various groups sometimes spend months on end preparing their floats, and the bands and dancers have spent blood, sweat and tears practicing just to march around the city and dance for hours that day.
4. Have the ultimate social-butterfly Sinulog experience at parties.
For all those out there suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), of course, pop culture dictates that you just have to go to at least one party this Sinulog season. From Friday all the way until Sunday, different places and groups will be holding and hosting parties left and right. If you have the energy and the spunk to meet new people, then this is the perfect opportunity to.
Don’t forget to take enough time for you to charge up for the ultimate social activity where you’ll be bumping elbows with the most random people—Sinulog day itself!
5. Get out of town.
If socializing isn’t your thing and you’re craving some time off the grid to unwind and keep away from all the hype, then getting out of town would probably be your best option. Introverts, and pre-mature grandmas unite! Pack up your stuff and grab your closest like-minded friends and take a trip out of the town. If you’re from Cebu, then you most likely have an extra day off with the usual Sinulog rest day, so make the most out of it and treat yourself to some R&R (rest and relaxation) away from the loud music and festivities. Here’s a tip: Make your plans ahead of time because for sure, resorts around Cebu will be fully booked that weekend.
So there you have it! If you do any of these five things, you are sure to have an unforgettable Sinulog experience. Whatever you choose, it’s up to you to make this celebration your own. Have a great time this Sinulog season, and Viva Pit Señor!