Cebu Lifestyle and Events

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

The True Essence of the Sinulog Festival

The Sinulog Festival 2020 culmination is fast approaching. Contrary to a common misconception. Cebu does not only celebrate Sinulog on a single day. The street dancing that happens every 3rd Sunday of January may be the highlight of the festival. But prior to the said Sunday, Cebu has lined up activities to pave the way for the penultimate religious street dancing.

Yes, you read it to write the Sinulog festival is a religious event and not just a parade of dances and fancy costumes. As a proud true-blooded Cebuano, I have seen how the Sinulog festival has transformed throughout the years.

For tourists flocking to Cebu City 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 definitely sees it as more than just a Sunday event.

A tribute to Cebu, My Hometown & to the Sinulog Festival

Sinulog Festival Cebu
Photo by Neil Cruzpero

Thus Cebu this one’s 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. 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!

What is Sinulog?
photo taken by Cess Taala

Some or no most of us would feel a bit sad when the holiday celebrations are over. But for us, Cebuano’s festivity continues right after New year!

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

The streets of Cebu 2 or 3 days after January 1would now 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 you are 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!

Mu-Attend sa Novena Mass ug Mag Selfie pa Upload dayon Facebook apil ang status na : Day 1 , Day 2 of Noven!

Sinulog Festival : The Procession
taken by Ej Requina
Procession and Sinulog Festivities

Just like attending the early dawn masses during Simbang Gabi- Misa De Galo. Cebuanos mark their calendars for the start of the Novena Mass in anticipation of 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 see how huge the crowds are during the event. Thanks to the churchgoers’ uploads on social media everyone gets to see the happenings during that day.

3. Cebuanos are fully prepared for Rerouting Schedules or Closed Roads due to Sinulog Activities

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

Sinulog Festival Cebu
taken by Cess Taala

We are now experts at this! Once Sinulog season starts, Cebuanos know which roads are passable and which are not. We adjust our schedules when we leave home. 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 Snr. Sto. Nino !

Ulan or Init Laban Lang para kang Nino!

Cebu Lifestyle and Events
taken by Cess Taala

The Saturday before the Sinulog grand parade is when the foot procession for the Sto Nino happens.

It is also when it feels almost all of the population of Cebu is out on the streets participating. Last year alone, 1.5 million people attended the said procession.

So how long do you say would the procession last, you ask?

Well, it usually starts at around noon and ends with a holy mass around 7 pm or 8 pm. I am a proud devotee to the Sto. Nino and have been participating in the procession for 11 years now. And I tell you rain or shine devotees still gather in flocks.

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 choreography for that song where both young and old are synchronized whenever it gets to be sung.

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

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

Sinulog Festival Cebu Fireworks
taken by Ej Requina

You know that the fireworks are incredible when you hear everyone say OHHHHH, AHHHHH, WOAH followed by the clapping of hands.

The fireworks display is a favorite pastime for Cebuanos every Sinulog festival. Couples, Friends, and families all find their makeshift picnic spots on 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.

Kids in Sinulog
taken by Cess Taala

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.

But perhaps as you grow old, priorities shifts, and instead of going out on the street to witness the Mardi Gras. You decide to turn on the live coverage of the Sinulog Festival.

Perhaps it is 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 is now similar to that of Mardi Gras’ in Brazil. It is 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 the Sinulog Festival of Cebu.
Sinulog Festival : Dancing in the Streets
taken by Cess Taala

The Sinulog Festival is synonymous with Cebu. Aside from Lechon de Cebu, people associate going to Cebu with witnessing the Sinulog grand parade.

But it is more than that. It’s 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.

 Gosh, I am getting old (haha), or perhaps I am just one of those passionate about ensuring the rich history of Cebu, the Sinulog festival, OUR history gets to be preserved and not rewritten. It is but our obligation to remember the core of Sinulog festival, and that is the Senor Sto Nino.

We Asked Homegrown Cebuanos: What do they do During the Sinulog Festival ?

Image of Sto Nino
taken by Neil Cruzpero

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

So I would like to scream a big Pit Senyor thanks to Cess and 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! 
Princess Taala
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 

FacebookPage: MikaylaDirat

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 in 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 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. 

Isis Francisco
Emily Manjares

Emily Manjares

HR PractitionerPet Lover

Instagram: @riaemariaem

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

For the novena mass, I usually attend morning schedules to avoid people who are pushing 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 celebrations when skies will be filled with different hues.Pyro-musical competition and fireworks display with drone show enlightens 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 for a petition 

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

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

Era Tanque
Girlie Noguera
Girlie Noguera


Certified Public AccountantTravel 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 the 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 on 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 a 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. 

book stack, books, antiquariat
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. 

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 it’s all good :p

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 the 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 Maxilom 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. 

Neil Cruzpero
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Erik James Requina

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

  1. Avatar

    Sinulog festival is such a great celebration, I always want to make it to Cebu to witness this festival. Thanks for making a nice blog about it.

  2. Avatar

    This festival is so great, I always want to make it to Cebu to witness it. Thanks for sharing a nive blog about it.

  3. Avatar

    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.

  4. Avatar

    I have never heard of Sinulog Festival before, definitely seems like the ultimate event to go to while in Cebu in the month of January! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Avatar

    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!

  6. Avatar

    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

  7. Avatar

    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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