Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sinulog heat reaches fever-pitch status

The colder weather caused by the Siberian cold front’s north wind blowing southward reaching as far as the Philippines seemed to have no effect  to Cebuanos as the rising heat in anticipation of the Sinulog festival has reached fever-pitch level. Some jeepney and other vehicle's regular routes must be re-routed to prevent the city from chocking up with heavy traffic, the Basilica del Sto. Nino church will have to be opened 24 hours a day to accommodate the rising number of devotees who will attend masses and say their prayers, a Devotee city was built up to offer free temporary stay and other services to devotees coming from other places who can’t afford to make it to the hotels, souvenir shops expecting a sell-out for Sinulog souvenir items, Henna tattoos once again to become an instant hit, and many more. And who, among the Cebuanos, will refuse to get infected with Sinulog fever? The fact that it is the grandest and mother of all festivals in the entire island of Cebu, Cebuanos are even making it a little bit more significant, grandiose, and alive each time. This year’s Sinulog festival falls on the 20th, which is the 3rd Sunday of the month. Sinulog festival has no specific fixed date to celebrate with but on every 3rd Sunday of January.

Cebu is the center of Christianity in Asia where the first Philippine native Christians namely Raja Humabon, together with his wife, and some of his people, dwelt and baptized. Raja Humabon, by the way, is the local chieftain of Cebu when the first group of Spanish colonizers came led by the Portuguese explorer, who served for the king of Spain, Ferdinand Magellan more than 400 years ago. According to historical accounts, Ferdinand Magellan handed Raja Humabon, as a gift, the wooden images of the baby Jesus known as the Sto. Nino, and the Ecce Homo which is the face of Christ. Many years would have to pass after that, the image of Sto. Nino was found by a Spanish soldier inside a burned down hut unscathed, when they were burning down some of the locals’ houses thought to have conspired for rebellion against Spanish authorities in Cebu. The image was then decided to be housed in a church, and so the first Sto. Nino church, which underwent a series of reconstruction before the final form was built of what is now the Basilica del Sto Nino de Cebu, in the entire island of Cebu has been built. Basilica del Sto. Nino is one of the Philippines’s oldest of churches.

The Sto. Nino image, believed by many Cebuanos to be miraculous and one by which they can seek refuge with, has become a symbol of faith, hope, and love. The festival itself is just a physical representation to keep the symbol alive. Most importantly, it reflects the psyche of every Cebuano—their more-than-average devotion to the baby Jesus and their dedication to keep it alive in their hearts are what made it colorful and special.

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