I’m from Cebu and This is How WE Celebrate the Sinulog Festival

The Sinulog Festival 2020 culmination is fast approaching. Contrary to what tourists believe Cebu does not only celebrate Sinulog on a single day.

Well the penultimate street dancing which is the Sinulog main event happens every 3rd Sunday of January but there is more to this religious event than what is shown on TV.

Photo by: Princess Taala

And yes you read it write the Sinulog festival is a religious event and not just a parade of dances and fancy costumes.

As a true blooded Cebuano I have seen how the Sinulog festival has transformed throughout the years.

For tourists flocking to Cebu City Philippines their goal is to actually witness the Grand Parade on Sunday. And I can’t blame them, it truly is one marvelous event that you have got to see.

But for us, the locals. We perceive the Sinulog festival on a different paradigm and I believe that Cebuano’s definitely see it more than just a Sunday event.

A Tribute to Cebu and to the Sinulog Festival

Photo by: Princess Taala

Thus Cebu this is for you! An ode to the place where Erik the Hungry Traveller has spent most of his life.

And to the rest of my readers this is a dash of the Cebuano Culture (wink) . Come visit us to experience the full blown experience!

How Cebuanos Celebrate The Sinulog Festival

1. Christmas – Done, New Year- Done, Hello SINULOG!

Paghuman sa Christmas ug New Year- Sinulog na sad!

Photo by: Princess Taala

Some or no most of us would feel a bit sad when the holiday celebrations are over but for us Cebuano’s the festivity continues.

It’s like second nature to us that after the New Year celebration we automatically switch to Sinulog to cling to hope that work/ life will still not return to normal since we will still have to celebrate the Sinulog festival.

The streets of Cebu 2 or 3 days after January 1 will be filled with mini flags  signaling the start of Sinulog.

Instead of hearing Christmas jingles almost every establishment will now play the Sinulog beat. I bet your humming that beat and saying Prititit in your head right now.  

2. Cebuanos Flock to the Sto. Nino Basilica to Attend the Novena Mass – And we have the selfies to prove it!

MuAttend sa Novena Mass ug Mag Selfie pa Upload dayon Facebook apil ang status na : Day 1 , Day 2 of Novena…!

Photo by: Erik James Requina

Just like attending the early dawn masses during Simbang Gabi. Cebuanos mark their calendars for the start of the Novena Mass in anticipation for the Sinulog celebration.

People flock to the basilica to hear the mass and to witness the start of the Sinulog festivities. And with social media, we can now witness how huge the crowds are during the event.

In fact, I feel that it has now been a norm for most of the Cebuano’s to take selfies either before or after the novena mass. With the altar or with the crowd of attendees as the background with the caption: First Novena Mass Done! Or something of that sort.

3. We Are Aware of Rerouting Schedules or Closed Roads due to Sinulog Activities

Kabalo na ta kung asa ug kanus-a manira ang mga dan tungod sa Sinulog.

Photo by: Neil Cruzpero

We are now experts at this! Once Sinulog season starts we are now aware of certain roads which will no longer be passable due to a Sinulog activity.

We know that when a procession or a parade would happen at this certain location thus we avoid those areas.

We adjust our schedules when we leave home or we scramble to beat the rerouting/ road closure time to ensure we do not get stuck in traffic.

4. Rain or Shine We Attend the Foot Procession for Senor Sto Nino .  

Ulan or Init Laban Lang para kang Senor Sto Nino.

Photo by: Erik James Requina

The Saturday before the Sinulog grand parade is when the foot procession happens. This is where the image of the Sto Nino is paraded along the streets of Cebu city.

This is also where it feels almost all of the population of Cebu is out on the streets participating . Last year alone there were 1.5 Million people who attended the said procession.

But how long do you say would the procession last?

Well it usually starts at around 12 noon and ends with a mass around 7 pm or 8pm.So yeah you guys can do the math.

 As a proud devotee to the Sto. Nino I have been participating in the procession for 11 years now. And I tell you regardless of the weather people still come out and participate.

For a spectator you would get goosebumps on how thick the crowd is during this time and most especially when the song “Bato Balani sa Gugma” or Magnet of Love is played (bet you had no idea that was its English translation).

We Cebuano’s have a special choreography for that song where both young and old are synchronized whenever it gets to be acted out.

5. Fireworks Viewing is a Must for every Cebuano during Sinulog

Sabado- sa Sto Nino ug sa SM unya sa Sunday tapok sa Ayala para sa Fireworks show.

Photo by: Erik James Requina

You know that the fireworks is amazing when you hear everyone say OHHHHH, AHHHHH, Woww followed by the clapping of hands.

This I would say is a favorite past time for Cebuanos every Sinulog festival. Couples, Friends and families all find their make shift picnic spots in the grounds of Ayala or SM to witness the showdown of sparkles, lights and sounds.

6. We Stay at home and watch the Sinulog Grand Parade coverage on TV.

Kapoian na ug Gawas sa Balay sa TV na lang mutanaw ug Sinulog.

Back when I was a kid I had my fair share of going out to the streets and witnessing the different contingents of the Sinulog Mardi Gras dance beautifully.

I also remember anticipating the Higantes – Giant mascots wobbling their way together with the beautiful floats of Cebu owned companies.

Photo by: Princess Taala

But at some point in your life you decide to just stay at home during that Sunday and just watch the festivities happen on TV.

Photo by: Princess Taala

Perhaps it’s also because the Sinulog festival has evolved for the past decade.

And while the religious aspect is still prevalent in the days preceding the Sunday Mardi Gras. The Sunday event itself has now been likened to that of Mardi Gras in Brazil.

Well it’s not entirely a bad thing as it has hauled a lot of tourists from all over the world to come to Cebu and celebrate the Sinulog festival.

The True Essence of Sinulog

Photo by: Princess Taala

The Sinulog Festival is definitely synonymous with Cebu. Aside from lechon people associate going to Cebu with witnessing the Sinulog grand parade.

But it is more than that. Its more than going out on the streets and throwing paint at people simultaneously screaming Pit Senyor. It’s more than the foam parties and the getting drunk on the streets type of festivities.

Photo by: Princess Taala

Gosh I am really getting old haha or perhaps I am just one of those passionate about ensuring the rich history of Cebu, the Sinulog festival and OUR history gets to be preserved and not rewritten.

The Sinulog festival is more than just a day where tourists flock out to the streets and get smeared with paint all over their faces.

It is but our obligation to remember the core of Sinulog which is the Senor Sto Nino.

Photo by: Princess Taala

The Cebuanos Have Spoken: This is How We Roll during Sinulog!

I did a post at Erik the Hungry Traveller Facebook page and asked netizens to send in their old Sinulog photos and or to answer the thought provoking (LOL) question: What do you usually do during the Sinulog Festival?

So I’d like to scream a big Pit Senyor thanks to Cess, Neil for allowing me to use their Sinulog shots of the previous years together with Isis, Julie, Aubrey, Era, Girlie and Emily for providing their insights about Sinulog.

And on that note Viva Pit Senyor and may we all have a wonderful Sinulog Weekend!
Neil Cruzpero

Ikora Rey’s Executive Assistant

Instagram: hailkingcrowley

I live near the CIC and Ayala Center Cebu so I am technically living near the areas where the parade will pass. 

My friends, usually my childhood friends, go out later in the afternoon, about 2:00 PM. Our goal is Fuente Osmeña because my friends also have other people they’ll meet there.

We will be walking there and it’ll last about one or two hours depending on crowd and our luck. 

We know the streets in Cebu very well so it is most likely our routes will change depending on the egress of people.

But most like the best route will be General Maxilum Avenue cause it’s the parade route. We take pictures going there and also watching the contingents dance while we slowly move towards Fuente Osmeña. 

When we arrive at Fuente Osmeña we will probably stay there and watch until all the contingents have passed by.

Then we start going back to our homes the same way. We have dinner when we arrive then go out to watch the fireworks display that”ll happen in Cebu Business Park. 

Princess Taala

Instagram/Facebook/ Twitter: @wandercez

Travel and Lifestyle Blogger


When i was younger during Sinulog i watched the grand parade, witnessed the fireworks, attended novena masses, joined the Saturday procession with friends, went to parties but as i get older what i normally do during Sinulog, well still completing the novena masses but during the weekend i normally go out-of-town to escape the busy streets of Cebu city and its massive crowd, a perfect time for relaxation.

Isis Francisco

Facebook Page: Mikayla Dirat ; Instagram: @mikayla.dirat

Poet/ Literary Blogger

[email protected]

During Sinulog my family and I usually just stay at home and watch the event on TV. We know how it can be tough to walk for miles on end since no transportation would be able to get through the crowd.

But back on 2015, I thought of going downtown to join the celebration. It was fun. It was great seeing the parade and the floats and the pretty street dancers.

We then walked all the way to the mall to watch the fireworks. It was a great experience but i don’t think I’d be doing anything like it again soon. Getting old I guess.

Ma. Emily Manjares

HR Practitioner/ Pet Lover

Instagram: @riaemariaem

During Sinulog celebration, I always look forward for 2 things: Novena mass and Pyromusical competition or various fireworks display.

For the novena mass, I usually attend morning schedules to avoid people who are pushing to one another to get in the Pilgrim Center.

I want to earn my peaceful spiritual being as I show my devotion to Sr. Sto Nino.

Sinulog is one of the celebration when skies will be filled with different hues.

Pyromusical competition and fireworks display with drone show really enlighten one’s mood.

For me, this is the most awaited part of the night and the best thing that ends the day.

Viva Pit Senyor! “

Neradyl Ann Tanque

Facebook: Era Tanque

Singer/Performer / CCTN Talent

I attend the novena mass, participate in solemn procession, light a candle, sing and dance to Senior Sto. Nino

I also hold seven (7) white candles while asking petition

Like “Pit Senyor kang Mama kini, Pit Senyor kang Papa kini, Pit Senyor kang Inday kini, and so on and so forth”.

After that, I usually watch street dancing – Sinulog Mardi Gras and go to kasadya in SRP.

Girlie Noguera

Instagram: @shingigirlie17

Certified Public Accountant/ Travel Enthusiast

Our family tradition during Sinulog Feast

We don’t usually finish the 9-day novena mass, but we do visit the church to light candles during the season.

On Friday, we visit National Shrine of St. Joseph for kissing of Sto Nino during the traslacion of the image. (The church is near our home at Mandaue City)

On Saturday, we either go watch the fluvial parade or only watch it in TV.

And on Sunday, we attend mass at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino in the morning. And after that we’ll go watch street dancing, eat street foods and buy Sinulog stuff like headdress, whistle, bracelets & etc, which are also being sold along the streets. 

In the evening, we’ll go to Ayala or SM to watch fireworks.

Julie Oreiro

UP Faculty

I don’t go out during the Sinulog weekend as much as my younger self did many (many) years ago. Although, at that time, going out only meant joining the procession, attending some events on the side together with my group of friends, or watching the fireworks show in SM with my family.
Now, I spend the time in the comfort of home binging on movies I missed to watch in the cinema or re-watching old favorites. That, or I spend it cramming on work backlogs I’ve pushed aside because I’m not yet over the Christmas break mood. Not any different from my typical weekend, really. 
So yeah, I’ve gotten old and lazy. Ha! But I save myself from the craziness of the crowd, and I save my wallet from unnecessary expenses. So its all good :p

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17 thoughts on “I’m from Cebu and This is How WE Celebrate the Sinulog Festival”

  1. tweenselmom

    Sinulog festival is very popular and yet I haven’t been to Cebu to celebrate it. The ladies of Sinulog Festival are so pretty with their costumes and the dancing. This is a festival that Filipinos are proud of.

  2. Sushmita Malakar – Sushmita, a proud Indian living in the United States, decided to work for herself after slogging in the corporate world for almost five years. She is a Master in Business Economics and loves to play with data. A creative content creator, she loves to talk about everything under the sun while she sips onto her bourbon, on the rocks. She is a writer by day and a reader by night and loathes to discuss herself in the third person. Find more about her on www.sushmitamalakar.com

    Wow! Such a vibrant, colorful and happy festival. Thanks for sharing and enriching my knowledge about this festival, about which I was not even aware before reading your post!

  3. The Trophy WifeStyle – United States

    So this is the first time I have ever heard of the Sinulog Festival! Looks like one heck of a time! I would love to attend one year

  4. Lisa Fucci, CPC – Lisa has a business degree from Strayer University and recently graduated from The Life Coach Institute of Orange County with a Degree as a Certified Professional Coach. She is currently working towards her Master Certified Coach and will specialize in PTSD. She owns and operates a National Association for Professionals that has been proudly serving its​ members for 43 years. She is a published author and has served most her life as a Firefighter/Medic helping her community. While not at work she is tending to her mini zoo of beloved animals and two small children. She is an animal advocate and a loyal supporter of our Military, Law Enforcement and all those who are in uniform doing work for the greater good. Lisa says, "I truly love helping people succeed. Sometimes we just need someone to help maneuver through the noise and help realize our own truth. Because let's face it, society can be a hot mess, we don't have to be."

    Absolutely stunning. The attire, the bright and festive colors! I LOVE IT. I wish we had more culture celebrated so beautifully here in the states.

  5. I have never heard of the Sinulog Festival. The clothing is beautiful that everyone is wearing in the photos. I would love to visit the Philippines to be apart of this festival. It looks like it is an amazing experience.

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