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Cebu’s Sinulog fest reaches its climax today & tomorrow
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Rachel Castro-Barawid
Date: 2003-01-17
CEBU CITY — Thousands of devotees, visitors and contingents from all parts of the country including some 300 balikbayans and foreign tourists are expected to join today’s Sinulog fluvial procession and Sunday’s grand mardi gras or street parade — the highlights of the 11day celebration of one of the oldest and most popular religious festivals in the Philippines.

Locals and visitors will converge today at 6 a.m. for the traditional fluvial procession of the miraculous image of the Sto. Niño. From Mandaue city, the procession will pass by the port of Lapu-Lapu before proceeding to its final destination in Cebu city. Pilgrims will then be treated to a reenactment of the baptism of Cebu rulers Queen Juana and Rajah Humabon at the Basilica del Sto. Niño. A

olemn procession will follow right after the historical ritual. In the evening, the celebration continues at the Cebu Plaza Hotel where visitors and residents can join in a ballroom dancing party. A cultural show at the Fuente Osmeña will cap tonight’s festivities.

The Sinulog festival is Cebu’s biggest and grandest fiesta in honor of the Infant Jesus or Señor Sto. Niño. The Cebuanos’ flair fo

r showmanship and love for celebrations is manifested in this religious festivity which is held every third Sunday of January.

Now on its 22nd year, the Sinulog festival which runs from Jan. 1020 is anchored on the theme “One Beat, One Dance, One Vision.” Cebu City Vice-Mayor and overall chairman of the Sinulog 2003 Michael Rama said the city government and the private sector have allocated s

ome R8 million for this year’s Sinulog celebration which is more bigger and grandiose than the previous years.

Smart Communications is now on its second year as major supporter of the festival. It is the sponsor of the recently-concluded Miss Cebu Pageant and the award-winning San Diego Dance Troupe which have been a constant guest performer at both the yearly fluvial procession and the mardi gras parade and competition.

“The San Diego Dance Troupe represents the best of the Sinulog tradition. Supporting the group seemed to us as an excellent way for Smart to express its solidarity with the people of Cebu,” said Mon Isberto, Public Affairs head of Smart Communications. The company is known for its involvement in festivals which preserve the country’s religious and cultural heritage and tradition.

The 50-strong Sandiego dancers will be joined by several other contingents in the Grand Mardi Gras parade and street dancing competition tomorrow at 9 a.m. Out-of-town guest contingents as well as international dance groups from the province’s sister-cities in Japan and Arizona, U.S.A, South Korea and Harlemmermeer in Denmark will also participate in the revelry.

The mardi gras contest will begin at 9 a.m. Contingents will first parade through the New Imus Road, passing by General Maxilom Avenue, Osmeña Boulevard and P. Del Rosario Street.

The Sinulog festivities will culminate tomorrow with the awarding of the winners of the street-dancing competition and their repeat performances.

Activities held during the weeklong celebration include novenas, processions, Sto. Nino exhibit, bazaars, cultural shows, concerts, beauty pageants, Sinulog sa Kabataan dancing contest, Cebu Pop Music Festival among others.

Meanwhile, the city government is providing free accommodation to pilgrims and visitors who cannot afford hotels or have no relatives to stay with. These people can stay at the “Devotees’ City” at the Plaza Independencia for the duration of the Sinulog festival from Jan. 17-20. Around 50 new 20-foot container vans from WG&A have been converted into sleeping quarters for these devotees. The temporary shelter is complete with electricity, water, portable toilets and bath and a laundry area. Pilgrims are also being given free meals and other basic necessities for free. The Devotees’ City has been a project of the city government for the past seven years.

The Sinulog festival component of the religious celebration only began in 1978 but the devotion to the Sto. Niño image dates back to the birth of Christianity in the country many centuries ago.

When Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan conquered the island and introduced Christianity, he had the island’s rulers Rajah Humabon and Hara Amihan (later known as Queen Juana) and some 800 natives baptized as a sign of their conversion. He then, gave Queen Juana a Santo Niño image as a baptismal gift. This Santo Nino, the oldest image in the country is still intact and is enshrined at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño (formerly the San Agustin Church). The image is said to have been given to Magellan by the queen of Spain to guide him in his voyage.

A couple of years after the conversion, Queen Juana saw her slave named Nuog praying in front of the image to free the island from a famine it is experiencing at that time. Nuog got carried away with his prayer that he unconsciously made a movement which later on became the Sinulog dance ritual. The dance movements — one-step forward, 2steps backward — resemble the waves of the sea.

[ Plaza Independencia Wiki ]

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