Since grade school, I have read about the numerous festivals in my country, the Philippines like the Ati-atihan in Kalibo, Panagbenga in Baguio and Kadayawan in Davao. Back then, I was not interested in travel and never thought that I would leave the town where I was born and raised. The Sublian festival in Batangas City was the only festival I have experience.
Now that I am older, I started to love enriching my experiences through travel. I wanted to explore more about different places and culture – especially, in the different islands of the Philippines. So, when my siblings and I got the chance to book a trip to the Queen City of the South, we grabbed the opportunity.
And with that, off we went to see the Sinulog Grand Parade!
The Sinulog Festival of Cebu is a week-long event which culminates with the Grand Parade on the third Sunday of January.
Sinulog is a dance ritual that honors the Sto. Nino. According to historians, the biggest significance of the dance is how it links the country’s pagan roots to the current Christian identity. The dance itself resembles the wave (sulog) of the river. To read a more about about the history of the festival visit the official website here.
What to expect
As early as 8AM, you can see people walking to the Fuente Osmena Circle. where the parade usually passes. And around that time, people have already taken their spots along the streets.
Roads are closed off in areas near the grand parade so walking is the best option to get there.
Despite the earlier announcements in their website, there was a network shutdown during major events. Communicating using mobile devices may be problematic. Because of this, there may also be issues on card transactions on some store or restaurants.
Some restaurants may also be booked by a group.
The parade goes for the whole day because of the number of participants – from street dancers to floats.
How to survive
Research. Of course, have a quick check on the event information and details.
Clothes. Given that it is a tropical country, you must be ready for the weather conditions. Expect the harsh rays of the sun, and occasional rainfall. Wear light comfortable clothing and shoes. Pick clothes that you won’t mind getting stained because of the water guns and paints. Pack an extra shirt and towel because you will sweat – a lot. Bring a light but sturdy back pack for you essentials. As much as possible, avoid sling backs because it can be troublesome when you are walking through a crowd.
Snacks. To be safe, bring a few snacks, or better yet something heavier, that could tide you over during the event. There are street vendors around the area, but the parade area could get very crowded and moving around could be tricky. Also, don’t forget to keep hydrated.
Location. Picking a perfect place to stay is also vital. Accommodations quickly run out a few months before the parade. If you plan to check out the festival, you have to prepare months ahead. Check the old route maps for the parade and from there, assess where you want to stay. (Additional tip: Allow yourself some options in case on of the places you book cancel on you. Just like what happened to us.)
My Sinulog experience has its ups and downs. As an introvert, going to a festival this massive can be extremely draining. But as a creative, the parade is the feast for the eyes. And after this, I hope I get a better experience if ever I go back.