Santo Niño de Cebu

The Sinulog Festival

The Sinulog festival is one of the grandest and most colorful festivals in the Philippines with a very rich history. The festival features some of the country’s most colorful displays of splendor and pageantry: participants garbed in bright-colored costumes dance to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs. The streets are usually lined with vendors and pedestrians all wanting to witness the street dancing. Smaller versions of the festival are also held in various parts of the region, also to celebrate and honor the Santo Niño. There is also a Sinulog sa Kabataan, which is performed by the youths of Cebu a week before the Grand Parade. Aside from the colorful and festive dancing, there is also the SME trade fair where Sinulog features Cebu export quality products and people around the world flock on the treasures that are Cebu.

Historical accounts reveal that the wooden Santo Niño was a bequest by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan after his arrival on Philippine soil on March 16, 1521 under the flagship of Spain to the wife of Rajah Humabon, Cebu’s chieftain. The image of Santo Niño became the emblem of friendship and conversion to Christianity of the natives. For three hundred years, the Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards and Roman Catholicism was a major religion.

A colorful and overgenerous yearly festivity was conceptualized by the Cebuanos called “Sinulog”, which became a climactic symbol of their undying devotion to the Santo Niño and held every third Sunday of January. “Sinulog” plainly means “graceful dance” accompanied by drumbeats and a glum holy mass become a crowd-drawing international cultural festival of Cebu. Cebu has a Roman Catholic Archdiocese, and numerous historical churches, including the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the San Carlos Church, the Santo Rosario Parish Church, San José-Recoletos Church, and Sacred Heart Church as well as several other non-Catholic churches, mosques, and temples.

And one of the most remarkable religious landmark of the province aside from the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is the Magellan’s Cross. It is a wooden cross that Ferdinand Magellan planted in the seashore upon his arrival in Philippine soil in 1521. The antique cross-housed in an artistically made shrine became a witness to the rise and blazing progress of Cebu as the civilizing heart of the Philippines.