Filipinos, by and large, are religious people. Being one of the largest groups of Roman Catholic denomination (I was about to say faith but I don’t equate faith with religion anymore), we celebrate Christmas with 9 days of novena masses at dawn leading up to December 25th, hold fiestas and traditions in honor of patron saints, and still have people flagellating themselves or getting nailed at the cross to commemorate the passion of the Christ.
But being a Cebuano, my favorite religious event is the Sinulog, where we have been venerating the Child Jesus for more than 400 years now — with novenas, fluvial float parades, a 6-kilometer procession, and a mardi gras. It’s a very big deal where I’m from. The third Sunday of January is when it all culminates into this massive street party where hundreds of contingents from all over the Philippines dance in the already narrow streets of Cebu made even narrower by thousands of spectators on the side cordoned out by a single rope held at intervals by university students as compliance to their PE subject.
It’s something you need to experience at least once in your life. After that you’re better off watching the whole thing on TV where it’s broadcasted live anyway. Because (1) it’s very crowded. As in the potential for a stampede is reasonably high at any given minute especially in bottleneck areas (Fuente circle is notorious for this. I should know. One time I thought I was gonna die.); and (2) the traffic is just plain ridiculous.
But that’s for the mardi gras itself. The novena masses are something else. Being one in an ocean of people collectively singing Bato Balani sa Gugma with right arms outstretched waving to and fro, it’s like wave after wave after wave of goosebumps galore. I’m not a religious person but it was one of those rare moments at church where I actually felt spiritual.
Those were also some of my fondest memories, standing next to my dad. He was such a big fan of Santo Niño.
I miss my dad.
It’s been ages since I’ve experienced Sinulog in Cebu. We have one here in Melbourne but it just feels different, somehow. A watered-down version of the real thing but who am I to complain, really? Of course it’s gonna feel different! Back home it’s the gays running the show with their endless costume creativity and astounding choreography.
We get free lunch here, though, so yeah, that’s still something. 🙂
We were late for this year’s Sinulog Festival at Clayton because it happened to coincide with the Chinese New Year Festival over at Springvale where we had lunch at and decided to explore a bit. Not that we missed anything much, if at all.
It rained. Hard.
But not before Raven and I got to chill a bit at the nearby skatepark with our book and notebook. We’re such nerds. I love it.
*Raven at 3 years old