Two steps for­ward and 39 years later

Sun.Star Cebu - - TOP STORIES - RONA T. FER­NAN­DEZ / Re­porter @rjt­fer­nan­dez

What started as a small rit­ual dance in honor of the Holy Child Je­sus sev­eral decades ago has now be­come a grand cel­e­bra­tion of unity amid di­ver­sity.

Peo­ple of dif­fer­ent races, be­liefs and gen­er­a­tions visit Cebu an­nu­ally to join what is prob­a­bly the big­gest fi­esta in the coun­try.

But did you know that the Sin­u­log fes­ti­val first started as an in­ti­mate homage to Señor Sto. Niño, par­tic­i­pated in solely by Ce­buano devo­tees?

Ac­cord­ing to the Sin­u­log Foun­da­tion Inc.’s (SFI) of­fi­cial web­site, the grand event did not hap­pen un­til the early 1980s.

The first Sin­u­log pa­rade was or­ga­nized by David Odi­lao Jr. in 1980.

Odi­lao, who was then the re­gional di­rec­tor of the Min­istry of Sports and Youth De­vel­op­ment, in­vited phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teach­ers for a meet­ing to dis­cuss the or­ga­ni­za­tion of a Sin­u­log street dance pa­rade.

A dance demon­stra­tion at the then Cebu Doc­tors’ Col­lege was made by Estelita “Nang Ti­tang” Di­ola, the old­est Sin­u­log dancer in the prov­ince, who died in 2013 at the age of 88.

The sim­ple dance moves were taken up a notch by in­cor­po­rat­ing the steps used by the can­dle ven­dors per­form­ing in front of the Basil­ica Mi­nore del Sto. Niño.

The first Sin­u­log pa­rade was then taken to the streets with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the dif­fer­ent schools.

Un­like to­day’s five-kilo­me­ter carousel route, the first street dance pa­rade started at the Plaza In­de­pen­den­cia and ended at the Capi­tol.

The fol­low­ing year, in 1981, seven floats were cre­ated to de­pict the seven dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods of Ce­buano his­tory.

Dancers per­form­ing to the same beat wore cos­tumes de­pict­ing the eras as they fol­lowed the floats.

The night was capped off with a grand fire­works dis­play and the tra­di­tion has been kept un­til to­day.

So that spec­ta­tors can ap­pre­ci­ate the fi­nesse in ex­e­cu­tion and pre­ci­sion in per­for­mances, work­shops and de­mon­stra­tions were con­ducted an­nu­ally through the help of the Cul­tural Cen­ter of the Philip­pines and the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Cul­ture and the Arts, and the Philip­pine Folk Dance So­ci­ety.

For the next five years or un­til 1985, the Sin­u­log fes­ti­val was only par­tic­i­pated in by devo­tees and spec­ta­tors from Cebu City and Cebu Prov­ince.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the fes­ti­val, though, saw the need to in­tro­duce new fea­tures that would at­tract more par­tic­i­pants.

Over the next few years, par­tic­i­pants from all over the coun­try started giv­ing their own touch to the Sin­u­log rit­ual dance. They, too, have be­come crowd fa­vorites and peren­nial win­ners.

One of the most cel­e­brated outof-town con­tin­gents is the mul­ti­year cham­pion Si­nan­du­loy Cul­tural Troupe of Tan­gub City.

Tan­gub has 12 cham­pi­onships to its name since it first started join­ing the Sin­u­log grand pa­rade in 1994.

To make the Sin­u­log live­lier than it al­ready was, the or­ga­niz­ers in­tro­duced new con­tests and more spe­cial awards.

The search for the Sin­u­log Fes­ti­val Queen, the award for the con­tin­gent with the best mu­si­cal­ity and a video doc­u­men­tary con­test were held for the first time in 2004.

This year, spec­ta­tors are in for new events such as the Agikik sa Sin­u­log (fea­tur­ing Ce­buano co­me­di­ans), Sug­buanong Musika (show­cas­ing the tal­ent of lo­cal mu­si­cians) and a tribal band per­form­ers’ con­test.

For Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­meña, mak­ing the Sin­u­log a sober fi­esta is the most re­mark­able in­no­va­tion so far.

Find­ing the street par­ties and revelry too rowdy for a fes­ti­val of ven­er­a­tion, Os­meña last year or­dered a tem­po­rary en­ter­tain­ment and liquor ban within the 300-me­ter ra­dius of the carousel route after hun­dreds of rev­el­ers ended up drunk in the streets the day after the grand pa­rade.

“Last year was the most mem­o­rable to me be­cause we brought solem­nity to the event by en­forc­ing a ban on al­co­hol and street par­ties,” Os­meña told SunS­tar Cebu.


CROWD FA­VORITE. Si­nan­du­loy Cul­tural Troupe of Tan­gub City has 12 grand prize awards to its name, in­clud­ing this per­for­mance in 2006.

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