The Sinulog Festival is the biggest and most popular festival on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. P
eople wearing phenomenal costumes of feathers and bright silks in a bewildering array of colours dance for hours in a Grand Parade. Masks and horns, traditional instruments and the famous Sinulog dance take over the city.
A beautiful palm-fringed island in the heart of the Philippine archipelago, Cebu is a relaxing place for 99 per cent of the time. But during the entire Sinulog Festival, especially on Sinulog Sunday (the third Sunday in January), the city’s inhabitants converge at noon on the route of a grand and solemn procession. The parade is in honour of the Holy Image of the Santo Niño and devotees keep up a raucous chorus of Pit Señor (which means Long live the Christ Child), accompanied by an incessant drum beat.
Every day of the preceding week, elderly women dance the Sinulog, a sinuous and curvy series of movements said to reflect the river’s eddies and currents as it flows through the city. If you want to see them dancing, go to Magellan’s Cross and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in the early morning.
During the procession every granny, grandpa, son, daughter and child are busy swinging their Sinulog hips. The result is a streaming crowd of humanity dressed up to the nines and united in a weaving dance step. If you are really lucky you might also catch jousting matches (on horseback, obviously) and be invited to an enormous and delicious feast. Anything could happen at the Sinulog!