today Cebu celebrates the feast of the Holy Child which is better known as the Sto. Nino in the Philippines. and if you are in Cebu, you will call this feast the Sinulog. staying in Cebu for five years gave me the chance to be part of the celebration five times. the excitement of the feast was always special and reserved to the Holy Child. it happens every third Sunday of January although the celebration actually begins a week before the feast day. from novenas to fluvial parade, the final procession on the night before the feast day to the grand parade.
my first two Sinulog brought me a lot of amazement since it was my first time to attend the mardigra. we were part of the crowd control for the mardigra* since it was required for our ROTC. it was a great experience because we were in the best location, closest to the performers. the drum beats makes the people dance in their own places while others can’t control themselves, thus joining the performers in the streets. helicopters and planes passing over us here and there throwing confetti. people walking. people dancing. people enjoying every moment of the mardigra. and the celebration does not end there, just right after the parade, the final performance was being held at the sports complex were every contingent gives their best. their best to perform for the Sto. Nino. the people outside the complex starts to party and there’s no need to look for places to enjoy the celebration because outside the bars and the different establishments are big sound systems playing music all night. Bands here and concerts on different venues. Sinulog was like that.
On my third time, it was different since it was my first time to attend the mardigra not as a crowd controller. Hahaha… so I simply enjoyed every moment.
but I thought it was all about the mardigra for the Sto Nino. not on my fourth time, when I was invited by a friend to join the novena mass the night before the grand parade. it was there that I truly saw a deeper meaning of the celebration. the highlight of the Sinulog. yes it is the highlight of the celebration. more than the mardigra. it was there where I saw thousands of people awaiting for the novena mass at the basilica del Sto. Nino. crowded but it seems that the people are waiting for something very big. it seems like they are encouraging more people to enter the basilica forgetting about being comfortable and having good space.
as the Sto Nino comes in, coming from the procession, everyone were standing and shouting Viva! Viva! Senor Santo Nino! sounding aloud telling you to shout as well and shout even more. white handkerchiefs are being waved everywhere. And it was only after the Sto Nino was placed in the altar,that the people stopped waving and shouting. That was around 6:00pm. The mass began and when we reached the part where we sing Glory! people are again shouting Viva! Viva! Senor Santo Nino! really making noise to acclaim the faith. Then the mass continued. when we reached the supplication part, I thought that what I heard earlier was already loud, but here comes sound of the drums and the trumpets. this time the priest raises the Sto. Nino and everyone are shouting! this time Pit Senor! Pit Senor! The priest starts to shout the petitions of the church, the petitions of the nation, the petitions of the city. and it lasted until 12midnight. Then came the fireworks on top of the basilica. 6hours of praising, honoring and offering of the petitions to the Lord.
as the mass and the novena ended, the people are recharged. not tired. it was joy and the peace of the heart and the mind that we gained from worshiping the Lord. it was the one of the best experience.
And I thought that it was all about the mardigra.
On my fifth time, I was able to experience Sinulog at its best. best because it was about worshipping and remembering every blessing that I received when I was in Cebu. this time understanding the roots of the grand celebration of the Lord’s feast. so before I left the city, I bought one small figure of the Sto Nino. as it shall forever symbolize the faith that I have in Christ. a stronger faith,a deeper love and a devotion which I will bring with me until I meet the Lord face to face.
Viva Senor Sto Nino!
you can visit this link for a documentation on Sinulog
and one of the best performance from last year's Sinulog.
*mardigra - grand parade