Although I am definitely not an expert in festivals, I do know that Sinulog is one of the most packed festivals in the whole country. Hundreds of people attend the festival and it seems as if it just grows bigger and bigger every year. This year, I got to experience the phenomenon for myself and being practically tiny, I get why they say it’s the most packed festivals in the country. Had it not been for Doi of The Traveling Feet’s navigation skills and Dylan of the Wandering Dylan’s towering height and protective gentlemanliness, I probably wouldn’t have survived. Seriously.
There was even one time when we were lined to go up the overpass but the line was simply too thick and long to go through. Had they all decided to push back, I would’ve been squashed like a bug.
Not a very good way to end a festival.
It’s a good thing that I had my trusty friends to get me through the fun and very interesting festival. If you want to survive the Sinulog Festival and have fun, you will definitely need these tips.
The Sinulog Festival is an annual celebration of the Sto. Niño that takes place in Cebu City. Just like every other festival, there are street dances and other crazy events during the entire week. But why it’s so popular? Because the week long celebration ends on a weekend where hundreds of people gather in the city center to watch street dances and party like it’s the end of the world. From the solemnity of the reason of the festival, the Sinulog is every reason for celebration and an awesome excuse to get out of the hassles of Manila for awhile.
So, in order to make the most of the celebration, how do you do it the right way?
- It’s always best to be with a local.
Locals know the best way to go about during the festival. Most likely, they wouldn’t leave you in the cold and let you wander the crowded streets on your own. Especially, when you have no idea which roads are closed and which ones lead to the right places. Someone who lives in Cebu and has experienced Sinulog several times would know where to go when the place is just too packed to risk it.
2. Always station yourself in front of the judges.
These dancers are partially there to perform and win an amazing prize from the government and the organizers of the festivals. That is also why they perform in front of the judges. They can’t dance throughout all the roads. Eventually, when they reach the judges, they’ll be too tired to perform. So instead of dancing while walking, they’ll walk, smile and then dance when they reach the judges. If you’re stationed right in front of the judges, you won’t have to worry about missing another dance. Nor will you have to worry about how to get good pictures of their queen dancer.
3. Always eat a heavy lunch
Never go to the festival without something in your stomach. With that amount of people in the area, you cannot possibly survive hungry. Bring something with you while you walk down the streets and traverse through the crowds. Don’t worry, water is abundant since there are sellers who walk the streets with you. If you’re parched, buy water. Letting yourself dehydrate in such a crowded place is never a good idea.
4. Wear good shoes
Have you ever hiked a mountain wearing the wrong kind of shoes? Yes, that’s how it’ll feel if you don’t wear good shoes to this whole day event. If you’re wearing flip flops, make sure that the pair you wear is the most comfortable. If you don’t like rubber shoes, you can wear sandals. However, I highly, highly discourage high heels or anything painful during the festival. Yes, that means bejeweled sandals too. Remember, there’s practically no shortcut to this festival.
5. Never miss the street dance
What’s the point of attending a festival when you’re only going to the main arena to watch in a civilized manner like real people, huh? Join the fun down at the streets! Be pushed, shoved and squeezed! Smell different kinds of smell, see different types of people. There may be good and bad experiences while watching the street dance, but once you’re in the middle watching the street dance live, you’ll know why it’s the best way to experience Sinulog. And if you’re confident enough, break into your own street dance. Fun? Crazy? Hey, remember, it’s Sinulog!
6. Paint yourself
I have no idea why they do this, but hey, it definitely looked fun. Just make sure you’re not wearing any of your good shirts. Unfortunately, washing clothes is not so fun. Still, paint your face, look like an idiot and dance with everyone else. It actually looks pretty cool, especially when you go to the airport post-Sinulog and everyone can easily tell you just came from one of the most amazing festivals.
7. Leave on Monday
This is one of the reasons why I didn’t get to make the most of my Sinulog. I was scheduled to leave too early! My 9pm flight was the ruin of all my fun plans. No fireworks, no parties post-Sinulog. Heck, I didn’t even have post-Sinulog syndrome! Instead of playing safe at work, take the first flight out the next morning instead. Yes, you’ll probably have a hangover, but it’s just a yearly experience. Leaving too soon will prevent you from enjoying Sinulog in full blast.
Sinulog Festival 2013 was amazing. I can’t wait to do next year as well.