January 15-17, 2011
“Viva Senyor Sto. Niño!”
Much apologies for the backlogs, guys and dolls! We just got back from our extremely busy week— including the packing we’re doing for another trip. (Shine on, excitement!)
As you may know, the Queen City of The South is a massive tourist magnet especially for the Sinulog festivities happening every 3rd week of January here in Cebu City. Pilgrims from all around the province and everywhere in the country (counting the world) flock to our humble island to pay homage and partake in the yearly merriment. If you haven’t had the chance to experience this — you just missed a huge chunk of your life… particularly if you are living in the Philippines.
First off “What Is Sinulog?”
Despite being associated with kick-arse street parties wherever you turn (for shame!), the festival is actually a local adaptation of the Ati-Atihan festival there in Kalibo, Aklan glorifying the Holy Child Jesus also known as Sto. Niño. We call out “Pit Senyor!” amongst the dancing, whistles & drumbeats.
Ask the person closest to you what that means… “What Is PIT SENYOR?” Chances are they’ll give you a blank look and flounder for a definition. Pit Senyor is a short-cut for the full phrase “Sangpit Senyor!” A bisaya call honoring Sto. Niño.
Jake: Bet you didn’t know that.
Belle: I… uh… *fail*. You?
Jake: The weather sucks today huh?
More Fast Fun Facts about this momentous celebration:
*SINULOG = a derivation of the word sulog which means “like water current movement.” Which explains why the dancing always seems to have that general characteristic to it. Back-forth-back-forth.
*It honors the connection between our people’s pagan past to Roman Catholicism brought in by the Spaniards although there have been debates amongst historians that the natives have already been celebrating it long before in tribute to their own wooden idols. (Wooden idol partaaay!!! Holler.)
*It is celebrated for 9 days which includes numerous masses (the huge ones held at the Basilica del Sto. Niño), really long (we’re not kidding) processions, competitions such as the Ms. Cebu beauty pageants & photography/video contests, various concerts, street parties & finally capped off on Sunday with a Sinulog Grand Parade. Smaller celebrations are held around the province at the same time.
*The image of Sto. Niño was presented to Queen Juana (previously known as Hara Amihan), wife of chieftain Rajah Humabon, as a present from the Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. On a side note, festival queens depicting her usually win top picks during photo contests. (*hint-hint*)
*Sto. Niño was previously given the title “Patron Saint of Cebu” until recently. God can’t be considered a mediator to Himself. Redundancy. Mama Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe has been crowned the province’s patroness by the Cebu Roman Catholic Archdiocese in accordance to religious canonical practices.
He resembles the Infant Jesus of Prague out in Czech Republic.
Sad Fact: Sinulog = PARTY. ‘TIL. YOU. DIE.
This year, Jake & I decided to do something unusual. For years we’ve been either:
– Sleeping in.
– Being good boys and girls in church.
– Watching the TV coverage from home.
– Playing/jamming/getting drunk (ehem. Wasted is the appropriate term) in gigs.
– Watching performances from the bleachers of the Abellana Sports Complex.
– Going crazy in the streets ‘til the wee hours of the morning (3 days after. LOL.)
– Walking around. A lot. No kidding. Does Guadalupe to Mandaue count?
– Working. (Yech.)
– Trying to get some awesome pictures for the Photo Contest.
– Stalking celebrities. I mean, just Jake.
We figured we could do most of these any time of the year. C’mon!
Brainstorming led to…
Jake & Belle: Hey! Let’s be Vendors this year!
So a trip to the organizers gave birth to a pricey yet a teensy spot in the streets where we could sell our merchandise… on a plastic table with an outdoor umbrella.
All this for the low, low price of ___! But wait, there’s more! (Well, not really.)
We invited a couple of our friends to do business with us… The experience would be totally different.
Even if we figured we’d still be incurring losses in comparison to how much we actually put in for that, everything would be worthwhile.
To start it off, Jake was technically in solo mode for all the preparations as I was out of town. So, 1,000,000 thumbs up and standing ovations for him! He ran the errands, went to the wholesalers for purchases, talked to the people— basically doing all the dirty work.
We got up early on Sunday (3AM FTW!) to begin setting up the booth located at Mango Avenue, just a short way from the Fuente Osmeña circle. Groggy and cross-eyed from lack of rest, we rode off to pick up our merchandise. There’s no such thing as sleep in this city! We were bombarded by a gazillion drunk messes… those who obviously still haven’t gone home from the past night’s chug-fest.
Soon after that we hunted down a parking spot as we had to lug around our stuff. Can you imagine fees ranging P150 up? For the love of—!
Just to make things short and sweet, we finally got to set up our booth after wading in a sea of all sorts of people even early in the morning.
We patiently stood in the rain-heat-rain-heat-rain weather fluctuations,
inhaled B.O., had a dust-ash-sweat facial cocktail,
endured noise pollution (especially from a neighboring ice cream pushcart’s incessant theme loop), faced dehydration (ironic because one of the goods we were selling included water) and…
…procured evil stares from passers by who we blew our air horns at. The last bit’s our fault. Oops.
On the upside, we enjoyed the company of great friends and the new ones we were lucky to meet along the way.
It was a reason to do something together… and to scream out TUBIGGGGG! right at the faces of complete strangers while feeling guilt-free.
Thank God our friends were nuts.
Or it would’ve been one hell of a job. Literally.
Our view was awesome too!
We had 50 percent visual access to the various contingents parading the street… ‘coz people technically built the next Berlin Wall between them and us.
Another good thing about sharing a booth is that shifting is possible.
On our free time we were able to score some temporary tattoos, get our faces painted,
scout the other booths (hahahaha), warm our tummies,
and empty our bladders which were bordering on full tank.
Oh and best of all, we were given the chance to hear mass and say our prayers which was a temporary sanctuary from the disorder of the outside world. It’s important to remember the real essence of the celebration and not lose oneself in the modern interpretation of the holiday.
Time went by so fast like a lab rat fed with Redbull and speed. LOL. Nightfall came, and the distinction for the true blue party conjugation became apparent. Nobody was on our side of the street anymore.
A suggestion for all those who would like to experience Sinulog in the heat of extreme idiocy: stay around the One Mango Place, Mango Square & Baseline area. If you want to pee, lots of luck to you.
Traveler’s Tip # 1: Bring your own toilet a.k.a. portable peeing bucket or in local lingo… arinola. If you don’t mind sticking a catheter into your ehem, please do.
Traveler’s Tip # 2: Diapers would come in very handy. Let me reiterate… VERY!!!
We headed home a bit too early from exhaustion but you could say it’s been an awesome experience!
Special thanks and colossal hugs to all our friends who helped out and took the time to enjoy with us… Leng, Langga, Jack, Jan-Jan, Nana, Ryan, Joel, Chassy, Yanya, Babes, Jing-Jing, Lab-Lab, Lovely, Jet, Jewel, Wangyu, Popoy, Harold, Yodz, Conrad, Onji, Paolo, Rizza, Merell, and the rest of the gang!
We will always treasure your company for years to come! We should do that again next time! But this time, no more of the blood, sweat and tears. Just pure unadulterated intoxicating fun! *wink wink*