Sinulog

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Procession
Fluvial Procession
A woman during the Sinulog Festival 2009.

The Sinulog is an annual cultural and religious festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, and is the center of the Santo Nino celebration in the Philippines. Other places like Maasin City, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental and Southern Leyte also have their own version of the festival in honor of the Santo Nino.

The Sinulog festival commemorates the Filipino people's pagan origins, and their acceptance of and conversion to Christianity (Roman Catholicism). The first of these conversions happened in the island province of Cebu when Rajah Humabon and his wife Hara Amihan were baptized and came to be known as Haring Carlos and Reyna Juana of Cebu.

One of the main highlights of the festival is the grand street parade which lasts for 9 to 12 hours (practically the entire day) with participants coming from the different towns and cities of Cebu and from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao across the Philippines. The Sinulog dance contingents are dressed in bright coloured costumes dancing gracefully to the rhythm of drums, trumpets and native gongs. Smaller versions of the festival are held in various parts of the province, also to celebrate and honor the Santo Niño. There is also a "Sinulog sa Kabataan" performed by the youths of Cebu a week before the parade. Recently, the festival has been promoted as a tourist attraction, with a contest featuring contingents from various parts of the country. The Sinulog Contest is usually held in the Cebu City Sports Complex. The Sinulog Festival competition is divided into three (3) categories namely the Street Dancing Category, Free Interpretation and Sinulog base categories. The free interpretation category has the most number of participating contingents coming from outside Cebu. The dance steps are fast and the storyline and theme varies from folkloric, mythical and historical lines. The Sinulog based category centers more on the Sinulog ritual dance worship and the choreography is more "formal" the dance steps depicts the prayer dance which is the true identity of the Sinulog ritual dance. The Sinulog based participants wear Filipiniana and Hispanic inspired costumes. The Grand Champion of the Free Interpretation and Sinulog base categories wins one million pesos (P1,000,000.00) respectively. The Sinanduloy Dance Troupe of Tangub City, Misamis Occidental is a consistent winner in the Sinulog based category. Carcar City of Cebu also proved their mastery of the Sinulog dance and they always end within the top 5 places in the Sinulog Competition. The famous Lumad Basakanon dance contingent of Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City has won several Free Interpretation titles in Sinulog and made history when they were elevated to the Aliwan Fiesta Hall of Fame for winning the national streetdancing champioship during Aliwan Fiesta 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2014. Sinulog Festival showcases the most number of participants and the best choreographic exhibition of any festival in the Philippines.

Festival[edit]

The Sinulog celebration lasts for nine days, culminating on the final day with the Sinulog Grand Parade. The day before the parade, the religious Fluvial Procession sponsored by the Archdiocese of Cebu is held at dawn with a statue of the Santo Niño carried on a beautifully decorated pump boat which sails from Mandaue City to Cebu City, decked with hundreds of flowers and candles. The procession ends at the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu where a re-enactment of the baptism to the Christian faith (that is, the acceptance of Roman Catholicism) of Cebu is performed. In the afternoon, a more solemn procession takes place along the major streets of Cebu City, which last for hours due to large crowd participating in the event.

Background[edit]

The word Sinulog comes from the Cebuano adverb sulog which roughly means "like water current movement;" it describes the forward-backward movement of the Sinulog dance. The dance consists of two steps forward and one step backward, done to the sound of drums. The dance is categorized into Sinulog-base, Free-Interpretation, and street dancing. Candle vendors at the Basilica continue to perform the traditional version of the dance when lighting a candle for the customer, usually accompanied by songs in the native language.

The Sinulog dance steps are believed to originate from Rajah Humabon's adviser, Baladhay. It was during Humabon's grief when Baladhay was driven sick. Humabon ordered his native tribe to bring Baladhay into a room where the Santo Niño was enthroned, along with the other pagan gods of the native Cebuanos. After a few days passed, Baladhay was heard shouting and was found dancing with utmost alertness. Baladhay was questioned as to why was he awake and shouting. Pointing to the image of the Santo Niño, Baladhay explained that he had found on top of him a small child trying to wake him and tickling him with the midrib of the coconut. Greatly astonished, he scared the child away by shouting. The little child got up and started making fun of Baladhay. In turn, Baladhay danced with the little child and explained that he was dancing the movements of the river. To this day, the two-steps forward, one-step backward movement is still used by Santo Niño devotees who believe that it was the Santo Niño's choice to have Baladhay dance.

History[edit]

On April 15, 1521, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived and planted the cross on the shores of Cebu, claiming the territory for Spain. He presented the image of the child Jesus, the Santo Niño, as baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, wife of Rajah Humabon. Hara Humamay (or Amihan in some versions) was later named, Queen Juana in honor of Juana, mother of Carlos I. Along with the rulers of the island, some 800 natives were also baptized to the Roman Catholic Church. At the moment of receiving the holy image, it was said that Queen Juana danced with joy bearing this image of the child Jesus. With the other natives following her example, this moment was regarded as the first Sinulog.

This event is frequently used as basis for most Sinulog dances, which dramatize the coming of the Spaniards and the presentation of the Santo Niño to the Queen. A popular theme among Sinulog dances is Queen Juana holding the Santo Niño in her arms and using it to bless her people who are often afflicted by sickness caused by demons and other evil spirits.

Arrival of López de Legazpi[edit]

The Augustinian friars that accompanied López de Legazpi in his expedition proclaimed the statue performed miracles and built a church on the site where it was found. The church was called San Agustin Church, later renamed to Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.

Letter to the King of Spain[edit]

After Juan Camus found the Santo Niño in the burning village, López de Legazpi was said to have included the incident in his report, entitled "Relation of Voyage to the Philippine Islands":

"Your Excellency should know that on that day when we entered this village (Cebu City), one of the soldiers went into a large and well-built house of an indio where he found an image of the Child Jesus (whose most holy name I pray may be universally worshipped). This was kept in its cradle, all gilded, just as if it were brought from Spain: and only the little cross, which is generally placed upon the globe in his hands, was lacking. The image was well kept in that house, and many flowers were found before it, and no one knows for what object or purpose. The soldier bowed down before it with all reverence and wonder, and brought the image to the place where the other soldiers were. I pray to the Holy Name of his image, which we found here, to help us and to grant us victory, in order that these lost people who are ignorant of the precious and rich treasure, which was in their possession, may come to knowledge to him"

Today[edit]

Since 1521, devotion to the Santo Niño has grown and has taken root in Philippine popular piety, particularly in the Visayas; pilgrims from different parts of Cebu and the rest of the Philippines make their yearly journey to the church to take part in the procession and festival. Starting in 1980, the Cebu City government organized the Sinulog Festival and eventually gave incentives to tribal dance groups. The first Sinulog parade was held in 1980, organized by Dávid Odilao, then Regional Director of the Ministry of Sports, and Youth Development. The parade was composed of students dressed in Moro costumes, dancing the Sinulog to the beating of drums.

The idea caught and thus, under the direction of the Cebu City Mayor Florentino Solon with the help of several influential Cebuanos, Odilao turned over the Sinulog project to the Cebu City Historical Committee under Kagawad Jesus Garcia. It was the task of the Committee to conceptualize the Sinulog festival and make it into a yearly event from then on.

In 1981 the following year, the concept of the Sinulog Parade was actualized involving not just Cebu but also representatives from other provinces in the Philippines . Marking its difference from another popular festival, the Ati-Atihan in Aklan, the Sinulog focuses not on the ritual itself but on the historical aspects of the dance, which, as it has been said, represents the link the country's embrace of Christian faith.

Sinulog coat of arms[edit]

The Cebu City Historical Committee, which was responsible for the conceptualization of the Sinulog as a provincial event, decided to adopt a logo for the Sinulog to identify it as an institutionalized yearly event. They turned to the coat of arms of the Santo Niño which consisted of a two-headed hawk that was the mark of the ruling House of Habsburg in Europe. The emblem represented the twin purpose of the Habsburg dynasty as "Champion of Catholicism and Defender of the Faith." At the time when Spain sent expeditions to the Philippines, they were under the Habsburg dynasty.

The Sinulog committee then incorporated the two-headed eagle to a native warrior's shield. The native shield is supposed to symbolize the Philippines resistance to colonization while the Santo Niño's coat of arms printed on its face represented the country's acceptance of Roman Catholicism.

Instrumentation[edit]

Percussion Instruments Lists

Wind Instruments

Stringed Instruments

References[edit]

External links[edit]