Cebu’s biggest cultural phenomenon is back!
After being canceled for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sinulog Festival made its triumphant return to the streets of Cebu City, the first in-person celebration since 2020.
However, compared to its previous iterations, Sinulog 2023 was celebrated at the South Road Properties, where the main festivities such as the Grand Parade and the Ritual Showdown were held.
For the first time in the history of the festival, the uptown areas were not as loud and crowded. Fewer people were at the Cebu City Sports Center as contingents performed their Sinulog dance routines in a newly constructed venue.
Locals and tourists flocked to the developing business sector of SRP to witness and take part in the festivities. The venue was also a new experience for Cebuanos, as the festival has always been held at the same location over the years.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SINULOG 2023 GRAND PARADE
Another important highlight of the festival is the Sinulog parade. Contingents could be seen parading the streets of Cebu with their colorful costumes and dazzling performances.
Fellow Cebuanos who gathered to witness the parade made the festival even more exciting.
The Sinulog 2023 parade consisted of 16 contingents from different parts of the Visayas region, under the Free Interpretation and Sinulog Based categories.
Unfortunately, Cebu Provincial Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced that 10 contingents from Cebu Province were to back out of the festival due to concerns about the new venue.
The venue was constructed only a few weeks before the event, with the finishing touches done hours before the festivities officially started. The rainy weather also contributed to concerns about the venue, as it would be difficult for contingents to perform with the massive props to be used on the muddy grounds.
As for the contingents, each of them had their own festival queen. These beautiful ladies would take center stage as they danced while carrying the image of the Sto. Niño, leading the dancers in their street dancing performances.
The contingents also had their own drum and bugle corps to add authentic musicality to their performances. This unit is responsible for the beats and sounds that the dancers would dance along to.
To add some story elements to their performances, contingents used a variety of props, many of which also matched their costumes.
Several business establishments joined in to celebrate the return of one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines, bringing their own colorful displays, floats, and costumes. Some even had their own Sinulog jingle in line with the festivities.
Angkas, one of Cebu’s most popular ride-hailing apps, brought a convoy of their riders wearing festive helmets to celebrate the festival. They even provided disc fans for viewers and had a drum and bugle corps perform along during the parade.
Representatives of Iconique Mall also had their own impressive float and in-house bands to perform songs for viewers.
Also joining the parade were the makeshift “Higantes,” giant towering puppets depicting artworks and characters relevant to Philippine history or pop culture.
The colorful props, floats, and giant displays definitely added to the festive celebration. Even the weather seemed to favor everyone who was attending the event.
The sun was up and the sky was clear, making it convenient for everyone to enjoy the festivities.
OTHER ACTIVITIES TO DO DURING SINULOG
While the main festivities for Sinulog 2023 were held at a new venue, the celebration was pretty much the same. Apart from the street dancing performers, attendees were quite creative with their attire and costumes as well.
Sinulog shirts were sold at several stalls along the road, as well as souvenirs, snacks, and other memorabilia to commemorate the grand festival.
Face painting, henna tattoos, and colorful feather hats could be seen along the streets, with people lining up to get their fair share of the service and products that have become a famous gimmick during the Sinulog festival.
Vendors could also be seen selling bright-colored hats to keep your head cool while walking under the heat of the sun.
SINULOG AT SOUTH ROAD PROPERTIES
South Road Properties proved to be a great alternative venue for Sinulog 2023 because of the wide roads. Dancers had enough space to perform and crowds could walk around comfortably while singing and dancing along to the famous Sinulog chant.
Luckily, nearby establishments located in SM Seaside and Il Corso were open to accommodate the crowds. Though most of the restaurants and cafes were packed, everyone was cooperative enough to follow lines and avoid any trouble.
Despite the heat during the day, onlookers could be seen having fun and taking pictures of the grand festival. Groups of friends and families stuck together while celebrating with everyone else present at the event.
For many of us, Sinulog 2023 marks the start of something new for Cebu. Now that the city is slowly adapting to the new normal, we may look forward to more exciting events in the future.
Of course, it helps that the government continues to look out for the safety of everyone during grand celebrations such as this.
The South Road Properties might have been a big change to the Sinulog festival, but it definitely made a lasting impact. Other than the traditional dance performances and street parade, Cebuanos attending the event made the entire celebration all the more worthwhile.