‘What’s your Sinulog Festival tradition?’

By Elisha Judy Tabaque

 

STREET dancers in vibrant costumes, floats, higantes, and thousands of revelers from across the globe will fill the streets today for the Sinulog Festival. But apart from the merrymaking are the traditions that have been inculcated in Cebuanos, be it completing the nine-day novena mass, attending the solemn procession, or many other ways the faithful express devotion to the Holy Child Jesus, Señor Sto. Niño.

As we say, “Pit Señor,” which by the way, is a short form of “Sangpit Señor,” let’s take a look at Sinulog Festival traditions that our readers have been practicing over the years.

Renalyn Chua, 21
BEED Early Childhood Education Student

“First thing’s first — devotion. I regularly attend the Novena Mass in honor of our Holy Child Jesus before I get myself to the Sinulog Festival’s enjoyable treats. Over the years, I consistently spare time to visit, offer candles and pray at the Basilica del Sto. Niño every Sinulog, although I haven’t attended all the processions. This year, it will be extra special as I will be one of the assistants for the Talisay City contingent. All praises to Señor Sto. Niño.”

Wayne Estardoo, 20
Product Design Student

“Since I was kid every Sinulog, we always go to Fort San Pedro with the whole family. We eat and enjoy each other’s company there. It was our so called ‘Sinulog tradition.’ Unfortunately, as my cousins and I grew older, this family tradition was discontinued. It’s okay though, at least I have lots of childhood Sinulog memories.”

Winna Mae Salazar, 21
Mass Communication Student

“I was born in IloIlo, and before, I always have Dinagyang in mind in honoring the Sto. Niño. It happens every fourth Sunday of January. Now that I’ve been in Cebu for like almost five years, it’s the Sinulog Festival. I make sure I always partake in the festivities being with friends or workmates. The highlights always fall on a weekend so we get to hang out. Typical party ritual involves walking the whole day of Sunday with the gang, eating (lots of food), dancing and shouting and saying “Pit Señor.” Beyond the party spirit of course, I make sure I would say a simple prayer secretly on that day. I do not bring my own Niño so I utter my prayer anytime and anywhere, really. This prayer is much more for my appreciation of small and big things around me. This year I have a lot to be thankful, though, so yey! Pit Señor!”

Heshvan Janin Sabequil, 21
HR Officer

“I can’t really say that I have a Sinulog tradition since I have different Sinulog experiences for the past years. There were years when I celebrated Sinulog with friends and there were years when I celebrated it with family. One memorable experience, though, was when I became one of the media personnel to cover the traslacion and pontifical mass for the feast. It was challenging and overwhelming at the same time. But what I really look forward to during the season is the unwavering devotion of the people especially during the masses celebrated in the Basilica. Most, if not all, of the time, I get goosebumps when the people start to sing “Batobalani sa Gugma” and if I get to attend the 7 P.M. mass, the traditional Sinulog dance excites me – the best street party, if I may say, that anyone could ever have. More than anything, it is the faith of the people which keeps this going; and the love that we have for the ‘Balaang Bata’ is what fuels the fire. I’m just happy to be born in Cebu and get to witness this kind of faith.”

Hannie Empaces, 21
Licensed Teacher

“As a devoted Catholic, I was someone who would complete attending the nine days novena of Señor Sto. Niño. Actually, this tradition started during my college days. My friends and I started this “panata” or pledge to attend the daily novena mass during our vacant period (which is usually at around 3 to 6 p.m.). We always rush to go to the Basilica to find a place to sit (or stand in case our professor dismisses us late). It has become our way of showing gratitude and in some sense, a sacrifice offered to the Child Jesus for answering the desires of our hearts. Despite having a class at 6 p.m., we still practice this tradition and would just run fast in order not to be late in our next class, while hoping for the teacher to understand or consider our case. This tradition with my college friends and classmates lasted for four consecutive years. Being able to attend the novena mass had different kinds of fulfillment. Seeing a lot of devotees alongside with you, waving hands and singing the ‘Batobalani sa Gugma’ brings this euphoric feeling that overwhelms your heart with different emotions. It feels like all the people were united by this invisible spiritual thread, being called by one voice, the Child Jesus, Señor Sto. Niño. Viva Pit Senyor!”

Hanah Jorquia, 21
Chemical Engineering Student

“Sinulog is a great tradition many Cebuanos celebrate every January. As a devotee of Señor Sto. Niño, yearly, I attend the procession that falls on a Saturday before the Sinulog feast and attend the mass thereafter. This year I am doing my best to attend the nine days novena mass. Despite the fact that at times I attend the mass and procession alone, my faith in the Sto. Niño remains strong, believing that soon, my family will be with me to witness this immeasurable blessing of God. The Sinulog Festival is a reflection of the strong faith of thousands of people because even if every hour there is a mass, the church is overflowing with lots of faithful devotees. May all of us feel His presence in our lives in any of His ways and may we make prayer and thanksgiving a tradition not only on special days like the Sinulog Festival but on our daily lives as well. Viva Pit Señor!”

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