The article below explains the traditional Sinulog and the centuries-old devotion to the Santo Niño as differentiated from the touristy Sinulog Grand Parade.
SINULOG: Modern journey in traditional mode
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Sinulog does not just happen every January. It is a daily event around the Basilica del Sto. Niño sans the color and festivities.
Augustinian priest Rev. Fr. Andrew Batayola once pointed out that Sinulog takes place daily. However, performers are not dancing in groups but in solitude; not young and bouncy but old and hunched.
?Their acts are not done with complicated choreographies but with simple moves; not with thunderous beats but with murmured requests. They don?t perform before an audience but before a miraculous icon, not for an award but for a favor.?
During the annual feast in honor of the Child Jesus every January, though, this simple sinulog assumes a bigger volume and impact because it is now done by the entire community of devotees praying to God together in a ritualistic dance. And though the festivity is closely associated with the Sinulog Grand Parade held every feast day, its essence is in the communitarian traditional religious event.
As its name suggests, the Traditional Sinulog is religious in nature. It is closely connected to the Holy Mass and organized by the Augustinian Community. But more importantly, what makes the Traditional Religious Sinulog different from the Sinulog Grand Parade (mardi gras, which some writers and broadcasters use, is actually a misnomer) is that all devotees together with the bishops, Augustinians, priests and the religious, who attend the Pontifical Mass in the Pilgrim Center of the Basilica, and the surrounding streets, dance the Sinulog to the simple beats of the ordinary drums as one praying community, raising their communitarian and individual petitions together when they praise and thank God, and seek His guidance and blessings when they now pray more emphatically what they usually murmur:
Viva, Pit Senyor!?
This was emphasized by lawyer Paul Yabao, overall adviser and new spokesperson of the Basilica, in relation to the highlights of the Feast Day (January 20) observed on traditional mode: Mañanita Mass at 4 a.m., Pontifical Mass at 6 a.m., Masses during the usual Sunday schedule, and Traditional Religious Sinulog after the last 7 p.m. Holy Mass, on top of the other important activities: Penitential Walk, Novena, Children?s Mass, Penitential Walk with Mary, Traslacion (not translacion) Motorcade, Fluvial Parade and Foot Procession from Pier 1 to the Basilica as well as Reenactment of the First Mass and Baptism, Solemn Procession of the Miraculous Image, and Hubo Mass.
This is it. This is how you really celebrate the Sinulog,? Yabao said.
Relevance of the Traditional Religious Sinulog
According to Archdiocese of Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, the significance of the traditional observance is that for 447 years now, we have been saying ?Pit Senyor? to mean ?we worship you,? or ?we praise you, we petition you, and we thank you.?
?Pit Senyor was not just a Cebuano way of greeting a fellow devotee. It was and will always and everywhere be a form of prayer to Señor Sto. Niño by every Filipino who has been baptized like Rayna Juana and who vowed to behave accordingly as a God-fearing citizen and as a law-abiding Christian,? Vidal said.
Why is the Sinulog Grand Parade different?
In a presscon last January 10, Yabao and Basilica rector Rev. Fr. Jonas M. Mejares shared that the Sinulog Grand Parade held every feast day, which has become a huge tourist attraction, is a civic and cultural affair organized mainly by the Sinulog Foundation with the strong support of the Cebu City Government.
The dancers who come from various schools, private organizations, artists groups, and local government units in and outside of Cebu, with complex and beautiful choreographies to the bouncy and animated beats of symphonic drums and other musical instruments under the supervision and training of professional and renowned choreographers and instrumentalists, perform before hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of spectators lining the parade route and before sets of judges strategically placed along the route.
When asked to elaborate on the theme for the 447th celebration: ?Journeying together in faith with Sto. Niño,? Fr. Mejares underscored a devotee?s relationship to his/her fellow devotee.
Devotees, most especially that 2013 is still celebrated as a Year of Faith, need one another in expressing their strong faith in the Sto. Niño. Our theme has something to do with our response to Pope Benedict XVI?s call for conversion of every sinner to a life of faith. Faith is crucial here. It?s not just a call to one, or two, or three persons but to every one of us. Sa atong padayong paglawig (travel) ning atong pagtoo in the Miraculous Child, di mahimong kita-kita ra. We have to be in this together.? (The Freeman)