Viva Sinulog Trivia!

Devotees at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño


Everything* you need to know about the Philippines’ largest (and most awesome) religious festival slash street party.

The Festival

  • Sinulog is a festival held in Cebu City that celebrates and honors the Santo Niño (the infant Jesus).
  • The festival lasts for 9 days. It begins on the Thursday after the Feast of the Epiphany and ends on the third Sunday of January with the Sinulog Grand Parade.

The Santo Niño

  • Despite popular belief, the Santo Niño is not the current patron of Cebu City. Because the Santo Niño is Jesus Christ himself, he cannot be called upon for intercession. Instead, Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the principal patroness of Cebu City in 2002.
  • The original statue of Santo Niño was given by Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon and his wife, Humamay when they pledged allegiance to Spain in 1521. They were later baptized and given their Christian names, Carlos and Juana.
  • The statue is said to be the oldest (Catholic) religious image in the Philippines. It was believed to have been made in Belgium and is very similar to the statue of the infant Jesus in Prague.
  • No record was kept of what happened to the Santo Niño statue after Magellan was killed in the Battle of Mactan until 44 years later when the next Spanish expedition led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu. The statue was found by Juan de Camus, a Spanish mariner, in a pine box at a burned house.
  • The local Cebuanos denied that it was the image brought by Magellan. (Historians believe that this was because they did not want the image to be reclaimed by the Spaniards.) Instead, they claimed that it was a piece of driftwood caught by a local fisherman.
  • Originally, the Santo Niño feast was celebrated in commemoration of the finding of the statue. However, the date came in conflict with the Lent / Easter season so Pope Innocent the XIII moved the festival to January.

The Sinulog Dance

  • Sinulog comes from the Cebuano word, “sulog”, meaning “waves”. The forwards-backwards steps of the Sinulog dance is meant to mimic the motion of waves or water currents.
  • The dance is said to have originated from the miraculous recovery of Rajah Humabon’s adviser, Baladhay. Baladhay was lying in his sickbed when he found a small child tickling him. He stood up and tried to scare the child away but ended up dancing with the child in the movements of the river.
  • The Sinulog dance is not only danced during the festival. Throughout the year, women in and around the Santo Niño Basilica will light candles and perform the Sinulog dance in prayer.


*Everything I’ll be able to remember / dig up / Google / Wikipedia / ask around about — I’ll be adding to this list as the day (years?) goes by.

(I’ll also be adding photos, sources, and references when I get back from the Sinulog madness.)

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