Got elbowed, pushed, and bumped; walked for a total of 16 hours in two days. But experienced lively colors, delicious street food, and a beautiful once-a-year parade. This is how I celebrated Sinulog 2014 with all I got!
Friday Evening (Pre-pre-Sinulog Shenanigans)
Even if the festival was still 2 days away at this point, the areas surrounding Fuente circle and Mango were already buzzing with activity. Henna tattoo artists have set up shop along the sidewalks and several parties were already underway in many establishments in Mango. After getting dinner, my friend B and I walked out into this festive atmosphere and we were easily swept along by its charm. So we decided, what the heck, let’s go celebrate Sinulog 2014 this early!
Henna Tattoos – we got temporarily inked!
Wherever you looked in Fuente, henna tattoo artists were all over the place with their usual black shirts and dreads. With brush in hand, they kept calling out – henna ma’am, henna sir! You want flowers miss, you want dragons sir?! One very creative guy trying to gain an edge over his competition shouted at us – henna ma’am with free Wi-Fi! hahaha!
Got Intimate with a Giant Snake
After getting our henna tattoos, we walked around Fuente to just enjoy the sights and sounds. That’s when we came across a small crowd fussing over something. When we got near, lo and behold, several men were hoisting a huge snake and allowing mostly scared passersby to take photos with it around their necks in exchange for donations. I’ve always wanted to have a photo with a snake around my neck so this was a great opportunity that I didn’t miss. In a few seconds, that snake was draped all over me and I was having a blast! The python (they’re non-venomous) was a bit heavy so I needed the help of the guys who owned it to keep my balance. It was not slimy at all, just rubbery to the touch. And its snakey head was super cute and adorable! Oh, I just assumed it’s a python because if it isn’t and it turned out to be one venomous killer cousin of Anaconda, then I would have freaked out :p
When it started drizzling afterwards, my friend B and I called it a night and went home to her boarding house. I asked her beforehand if I could crash at her boarding house starting Friday night to Sunday evening because she lives close to Fuente, much closer compared to my address in Mandaue. Thankfully, B kindly agreed and I was spared from the long commute and disastrous traffic during this weekend.
Saturday – (the eve of Sinulog)
B and I woke up really late but when we did, we wasted no time in going out and celebrating the day before the Sinulog street dancing. The main event for Saturday was the procession of the Sto. Niño so we decided to join that. At this point, roads leading to the Basilica and Fuente were already closed and walking was the only way to go.
Joined the Procession to the Basilica del Sto. Niño
According to the news, some 3.2 million people joined the procession to the Basilica del Sto. Niño and that’s the crowd we came upon that afternoon. As you can imagine, the procession was slow-moving and there were people everywhere bumping and crashing into us. But the air was filled with singing, people’s laughter and prayers, and a joyful air of piety. So the 5.7 kilometers walk that took us 7 hours to complete under the cloudy sky was surprisingly a pleasant one.
Sampled So Much Street Food
We also made sure to sample as many street foods as possible. There were freshly boiled corn topped with cheese powder and butter, crunchy peanuts, sweet oranges, chocolate moron, tempura, barbecue, colorful juices with jello squares and more! We certainly didn’t find ourselves hungry at any given point.
Chilled at Senior Citizens park and the Capitol
After walking all the way to the Basilica del Sto. Niño, we decided to go rest for a while at the nearby Senior Citizens park, which is just a small park surrounded by old and abandoned buildings. It was designed nicely though and provided a small resting place for any weary feet searching for reprieve.
After resting for a bit, we walked back to Guadalupe and on the way passed by the Cebu Capitol, which looks great in the evening. We chilled at the Capitol’s steps for a while just enjoying the cool night air and people watching and then went home to sleep.
Sunday – Sinulog 2014! Pit Senyor!
Upon waking up, we could clearly hear the drums and the blaring Sinulog music. Excited, we went out again, the tiredness of the previous day’s 7 hours of walking quickly faded. A few minutes later, we joined the thousands of people lined on both sides of the parade route jostling for a better view. It was cloudy and it drizzled from time to time but on the bright side, we didn’t have to contend with the heat that would have made us give up in just half a day. Because of the cold weather, we lasted from 10 in the morning to 11 in the evening!
Enjoyed the Street Dancing (and all that comes with the Sinulog Parade)
Every year, the Sinulog contingents do their best to be better than last year and all their effort really shine through their colorful costumes, creative props, and energetic dancing. The higantes and all sorts of floats were very fun to watch and photograph too. And it was quite amusing to hear all the screams of fans as their favorite local celebrities pass by.
Channeled My Inner Paparazzi
With the millions of people that came to experience Sinulog 2014, it wasn’t surprising to see so many adorable hunks walking around (there were gorgeous ladies too but they aren’t my preference haha). Taking a break from watching and photographing the dancers, I got in touch with my inner paparazzi and took some furtive photos of those beautiful men who decided to grace the festivities. Nope, I didn’t stalk them afterwards ^_~
Watched Fireworks at Ayala
When it started getting dark, B and I decided to head to Ayala to enjoy the fireworks display the mall always offers Cebuanos at this time of the year. After getting crushed by hundreds of people, we finally reached Ayala at 6PM. Yes we were early, but we wanted to find a good spot. We settled at the pavements just across the area where they set up the fireworks and waited there for 3 hours until the 9PM start of the display.
We didn’t leave our spot at all because there were so many people arriving just looking for a vacant patch of pavement where they can sit on. 3 hours of sitting on pavement is not a good idea for the posterior though, I tell you. With numb behinds, we stubbornly stayed at that spot and made friends with a father and his daughter in the process. At around 9:10 PM, Ayala’s fireworks finally started and the continuous eruption of those flowers in the sky was simply magnificent to watch! B and I joined the the ooohhhs, aaaaahhhs, and woooows of the crowd as we delighted in the fireworks display. But in 15 minutes it was over! We waited there for 3 long butt-numbing hours and the display was only 15 minutes long. It used to last 30 minutes! I was really disappointed by the shortness of it but I guess with the construction of the new wing, it isn’t surprising if Ayala chose to cut costs with its fireworks this year.
After that, we walked back home and went to sleep feeling that satisfying mixture of tiredness and happiness you can only get from a great experience. All the soreness was certainly welcome because they’re proof that Sinulog 2014 was a blast!
Thank you very much B for letting me stay at your boarding house for 3 nights and be closer to the Sinulog 2014 festivities!
How about you, how did you celebrate Sinulog this year? ^_^