It is mid-January, the City of Cebu is abuzz with holy excitement over the Sinulog Festival. It is the festival to honor the Señor (the “Santo Niño” or the Holy Child) that was said to have started in 1521 when the explorer Ferdinand Magellan used the Catholic faith to befriend the native ruling families in Cebu. The normal greeting for these next few days is “Pit Señor” instead of “Good Morning”
Photo from Langyaw.com
This year the official program began January 7 with the first day of the Novena masses. The Novena is celebrated with daily mass and a special prayer for a total of nine (9) days. The masses begin as early as four in the morning (4 a.m. at the Basilica) and almost every hour thence.
Basilica Minore de Sto Nino from Been There Done That before the Earthquake in 2012.
Novena Mass Picture from Wikipedia
The events include the Fluvial processession on the 8th day and the Grand Parade on the last day where the entire City participates. “Sinulog” refers to the dance in Cebu during the Grand Parade to honor the Holy Child Jesus who is the patron of Cebu City. It is done by parade participants be they on the parade or the sidelines. It is a two step forward dance with one step backward that originated from the first natives baptized in the faith and is done to the beat of drums and traditional Sinulog songs. Many paraders will carry the Holy Image as they dance. The Holy Image is housed in the Basilica Minore de Sto Niño and will make his way through the City with the Parade.
While many prefer to watch the 9 hour street parade on the last day, I personally recommend to see the Fluvial Procession that begins in Mandaue City and ends in the Basilica. The Holy Image is carried by the faithful and followed through the streets of the city with candles for adults and balloons for children. The balloons are released as the Holy Image passes and one can always follow the trail of balloons from afar to find where the Holy Image is. The strength of the City is its faith and hope in Jesus and it is best seen on this day.
Photo from: Sinulog Festival