Sinulog Celebration: Vestiges of the Past

Cebu, Philippines — AT the core of every Sinulog celebration we are witnessing annually, is the faith of every Cebuano to the Holy Child that keeps us moving. This faith is a characteristic of the lumads, whenever tragedies, calamities and catastrophes are bound to happen, Cebuanos would always kneel down and pray for safety and guidance from the Holy Child. It is indeed a celebration of faith and love that brings the society together in weeklong festivity.
Sinulog has been regarded as the Queen of All Festivals and it has made the world attuned to it. Shortly after the New Year, the fiesta is celebrated every 3rd Sunday of January and is somehow treated as an extension of the Yuletide Season here in Cebu. Families and relatives working outside of the country would always make it a point to come home and enjoy every minute of the activities laid down by the Sinulog Foundation Committee.

Sinulog celebration
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How It Came About
Sinulog has its traces from the dance ritual that honors the miraculous Sto Nino image, dancing to the beat of the drums and getting similarity in form from the current flow [sulog] of the Cebu Pahina River. Wayback centuries ago, even before the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan arrived, the natives were already dancing the Sinulog honoring their pagan patrons. When Magellan finally set foot on our shores in April 7, 1521, he introduced Christianity  and planted a cross  as a reminder that Cebu is a part of Spain as one of its conquests and gave the image of the Holy Child to Hara Amihan, wife of Rajah Humabon, then later known as Queen Juana as baptismal gift. This event not only baptized the rulers but as well as the natives amounting to about 800 people. The nearby town chieftain, Rajah LapuLapu, did not received Ferdinand Magellan that well and ensued into the historic Battle of Mactan. Magellan fell into the hands of the native ruler and his men were not able to return to Spain to report the incident and the conquest.  
Sinulog celebration
Image Source: Hara Amihan

The natives to continue to dance the Sinulog between the time when Magellan died and the gap before the next Spanish conqueror arrived. This time, it is not about the pagan idols but in reverence to the Miraculous Child. In the years that followed, the dance was still present however it was not really a big festival for the island of Cebu. In the Basilica [a.k.a San Agustin Church], you would only see candle vendors offering prayers and petitions though the dance.
Sinulog celebration
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The Sinug of Nang Titang
There is an interesting insight of how the Sinulog beat was started and kept as an honored tradition in the island of Cebu. This is the Sinug beat that transcends over time and generation. With the theme of the every Sinulog as One Beat, One Dance One Vision, let us get to know the lady who became the keeper of the beat, Nang Titang.
Estelita Diola, known as Nang Titang of Mabolo, was the one who continued and propagated the Original Sinulog Dance Steps after the demise of her father. She had learned this dance from her father, Buenaventura “Turang” Diola, and the drum beat from his father’s close friend, Macario “Iclot” Bontilao.
Sinulog celebration
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The Sinug of Nang Titang has distinction from what we know of the Sinulog steps today. It is consisting of a different vibe, drum beat and emotion all rolled into two forms. The Natural Movement consists of one step forward and one step backward. The Kinampilan Movement consists of the right foot moving one step forward and one step backward while the left foot remains stationary. This dance is a narration in form on how Christianity came about in Cebu, how the Lumads and the Spaniards clashed in arms, and how peace reigned with the help of the Miraculous Child, Sto Nino.
Sinulog Fesival: Its Evolution
From the Sinug of Nang Titang, then Regional Director of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development Mr David S. Odilao, Jr in 1980 got inspired to organize the first Sinulog parade together with the Physical Education teachers. They invited Nang Titang Diola for a demo and from there, analyzed the steps and was further enhanced. They also got the idea from observing the candle vendors at the Basilica and then calibrated everything together for the parade. The physical education teachers of the 7 universities and schools namely, University of San Carlos [USC], Southwestern University [SWU], University of San Jose-Recoletos [USJR], University of Cebu [UC], University of Southern Philippines [USP] , Cebu Institute of Technology [CIT] and Cebu Doctor’s University [CDU, then known as Cebu Doctors College] where the first ones to lead the parade starting from Plaza Independencia all the way to the major streets of Cebu. They got financial support through DECS and MSYD and the schools were given a specific time/ era of Cebu History from olden days [primitive] to the modern times  that they need to portray thru the parade.
With the success of the first festival, Mr. Odilao endorsed the parade to the Sinulog Organization headed by then Cebu City Mayor Florentino S. Solon through the help of Manuel S. Satorre Jr., the late Juan B. Aquino Jr., also late Xavier Ledesma, Robert Grimalt and Antonio R. Aseniero Jr. When the committee was started, they then brainstormed for a logo for the festival for it to be an institution that will cover the annual Sinulog celebration. Having a logo will identify it with the other festivals too.
They chanced upon the logo of the coat of arms for the Sto. Nino, bearing a two – headed hawk, the crest of the the House of Hapsburg [Hamburg] in Europe that ruled from the 15th to the 20th century. During the time when Spain conquered Cebu, it was under the Hapsburg Dynasty. This crest was evident even in the banners, flags and anything that would represent the dynasty. The two headed hawk means that Hapsburg House have two purposes: Champion of Catholicism and Defender of the Faith. To complete the logo, its background consists of a native shield of a warrior symbolizing the continuing resistant to colonization.
Combining the native warrior shield and the coat of arms for the Sto. Nino gave the logo not only gives it an identity on its own but a reminder of a colorful past it had. It served as a reminder that we may be a naturally strong and resilient people but we are humbled on by the meekness and the humility of the Miraculous Child who became our guiding light and hope during trying times.
Sinulog celebration
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Sinulog celebration
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