w things embody the life and spirit of Cebu than its numerous fiestas and festivals. Based on centuries of tradition and religious belief, these celebrations are now among the most closely followed events in the beautiful island province.
The Sinulog Festival
Topping the list of all the fiestas and celebrations in Cebu is without doubt the Sinulog Festival. Held on the third day of the first month of the year, this is a glorious feast for the Santo Nino de Cebu, the most revered religious figure in the province.
In its most basic concept, the festival is all about remembering the past religious beliefs of the Cebuanos and their conversion to Christianity. There are actually several of these held in the various parts of the island, but the biggest one is of course in Cebu City.
At the center is a massive and colorful street dance parade. The participants are all clad in colorful and traditional attire, and their movement is accompanied by the beat and rhythm of musical instruments, ranging from gongs to trumpets to drums and the clapping and cheering of the audience.
At the ninth day of the Sinulog feast comes the Grand Parade; before it commences a boat procession of the Santo Nino at the early morning hours takes place, with the statue adorned with various flowers, relics and candles.
The journey commences at Mandaue and ends at the Basilica. A street procession follows later in the day. This is followed by a Mass, and then the resumption of the street parade.
This feast is held every 7th of May, principally in Mandaue City. In essence, it is all about the foundation of the city, and the vital role it played in Cebu’s history after Magellan first set foot upon it.
As with other fiestas, there are colorful street dancing, but at the same there are also dramas and plays that serve to highlight the important points in the city’s past. There are also figures from local folklore, like the giants and elves, and there are also various floats. There is also a grand fireworks show, and a contest for the finest street dancers and floats.
The Fiesta of the Virgin
Held every November 21, this event once again symbolizes the unique blend of religious piety and celebration that Cebu is known for.
This feast, like most others, is in honor of a patron saint (Opon). Beside a procession of religious relics and images, there is alongside it a festival of food sharing and a a pageant that culminates in the unveiling of the chosen Fiesta Queen.
Christmas (Paskuhan) is the most widely awaited holiday of the year for Cebuanos, and the celebrations begin in early December.
From homes to malls to shops, you will see colorful lights signifying the Yuletide season. The parol and other Christmas decors will be hung over the homes, and there will be plenty of songs, gatherings and gift giving all throughout the month. The caroling, a Filipino tradition, wherein children go from house to house singing Christmas songs, is alive and well in Cebu.
Kadaugan sa Mactan
Every 27th of April at the Mactan Shrine in Puerto Engano, Mactan, the people reenact the Battle of Mactan, where the famed Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan met his end at the hands of Lapu-Lapu.
The event lasts for a whole day, and there are plenty of activities held throughout. These include, for visitors, a tour of the major battlegrounds, as well as other places of interest. One can also find information on the culture of the people whom Magellan encountered. The highlight of course, is the re-staging of the epic battle.
Fiesta sa Carcar
Every 24th of November, the town of Carcar in Cebu holds a feast on behalf of its patron saint, Saint Catherine.
While there are several aspects and activities in the festival, the most notable is what may be called the food fest. The residents would open their doors to neighbors, friends, relatives and even to the town visitors, so that may also partake of the local cuisine. Under Spanish rule for a long time, the end result are dishes that offer a delicious mix of both Spanish and Filipino delicacies.