Confessions of a Sinulog Virgin

Denise Mallabo talks about her first time to attend Sinulog, Cebu City's biggest fiesta.

By Denise J. Mallabo
January 05, 2012

I was in Cebu in 2010 for Sinulog. It was my first time at the annual celebration (hopefully not the last) and the experience was one for the books. Sinulog is an annual, week-long event whose festivities culminate during the third Sunday of January in Cebu City. It's like the Philippines' version of Mardi Gras, but without the beads.

The celebration is held to honor Sto. Niño, the patron saint of Cebu. Its highlight is a grand parade that fills the streets of Cebu City with dancing people and devotees yelling "Pit Señor." Participants wear colorful costumes and ride on or walk beside flamboyantly designed floats while tourists watch, having the time of their lives.

Photo by Brendan Goco and Denise Mallabo

Until today, it surprises me how I was able to survive the ordeal of squirming in the sea of people to get from one point to another in the parade. Let me just say that participating in Sinulog is a polarizing experience that will either traumatize you or encourage you to attend the festival again the next year.

Basically, Sinulog is one chaotic and extremely exhilarating street party and by the end of the day you will discover muscles that you didn't know you had, because they will be aching. Not even rain can dampen the festivities─it in fact regenerates your energy, making you want to dance and move around more. There's also a lot of drinking involved, so if you are a recovering alcoholic it's probably not advisable for you to attend unless you seriously want to test your willpower.

The Sinulog experience is so unique and energizing that life in the Philippines wouldn't be complete without attending at least one Sinulog Festival. Just be well prepared for one of the best and rowdiest festivals in the country. Here are some of the pictures a friend and I took of that memorable event.