Sinulog: Cebu’s Dance of Worship

Cebuanos and the Filipino in general have long embraced as their own the dance of worship they call the Sinulog and the Sinulog Festival.

The basic forward and backward dance steps of the Sinulog today is said to refer the flowing movement of the water current locally known as “sulog” and performed as a dance-prayer to venerate  Senyor Santo Niño.

Indeed, Cebuano historian Resil B. Mojares wrote in this book “The Feast of the Santo Niño – An Introduction to the History of a Cebuano Devotion” that “dance-as-worship was a common practice in Pre-Hispanic culture.”

Mojares noted that the earliest description of dance in the Philippine archipelago was written by Pigafetta. The chronicler of the Spanish expedition led by Ferdinand Magellan witnessed a ritual dance by two elderly women, presumably babailans or priestesses, to consecrate a bound pig just before a big feast.

Early Jesuit missionary Fr. Pedro Chirino, Mojares noted, approved of the native dances saying these were “worthy of performance to solemnize our Christian feasts.”

Mojares quotes Chirino:

… they move their empty hands in harmony with feet, they slowly, now rapidly, now they move forward, now they step back; now they are on fire, now they are calm; now they come together, now they move apart. Everything is with graceful decency.

Though Mojares found no mention of the word Sinulog until the 20th century, he cited Cebu visitors who wrote about the dance during the January feast of the Holy Child.

Charles M. Skinner, an American writer who visited Cebu during the late 19th century, for instance, described this practice of dancing inside the Santo Niño basilica during the January feast high mass as in “insane frenzy.”

For Mojares, history has shown that through the centuries, Cebuanos had expressed devotion to their Patron Senyor Santo Niño by dancing. This makes the Sinulog a truly native practice in this city in central Philippines.

However, one thing stands out. The Sinulog is a native dance expressing devotion to Senyor Santo Niño, the Holy Child Jesus of the Christian world.


History and the Catholic Church have long taught that the Spanish expedition in 1521 led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan brought the image of the Holy Child from Europe to Cebu. Magellan gave the image to the native Queen Juana as a baptism present on April 14, 1521.

In world history, Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world proved that the world is round.

Another Spanish expedition led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi found the image unscathed inside a burning hut when they arrived in Cebu in 1565. It is said that the present Basilica del Santo Niño was built on the same spot where it was found.

Those interested in tracing the origin of the image of the Santo Niño in Cebu would want to visit the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. It was reported in 2015 that the museum had acquired an image of the Santo Niño so similar to the image in Cebu. The Louvre image is said to be a twin or a brother.

Cradle of Christianity

I recently watched a tourist’s Facebook video about Cebu which he described as the place where Christianity began in the Philippines.

Of course he got it right.

But isn’t Cebu also the Cradle of Christianity in South East Asia? This is a significant distinction during the rise of the ASEAN Community — even as Filipinos in several parts of the world spread devotion to the Holy Child and the Sinulog in their own communities where they now live and work.

In a sense, the Sinulog is both local and global ever since Cebuano devotees began dancing as a form of worship for the God that Magellan introduced and proselytized n 1521.

Being both local and global at the same time apparently contributed to making the Sinulog festival a global attraction every January. More so as we inch towards the 500th celebration of Magellan’s arrival this 2021.

Mojares book on Santo Nino feast
The book is available online or email me prworksph(at)



2011 strategic plan renders new P170M traffic study unnecessary

Check out executive summary below

Proponents of a new P170 million traffic study for Metro Cebu insist this is needed so we can implement projects with strategic impact.

Presidential Assistant for Visayas Mike Dino first talked about this study during a recent House public hearing on the proposed emergency powers for President Rody Duterte  in addressing the traffic situation in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

The proposal later got the support of Visayas congressmen including the 10 Cebu congressmen.

But why should we spend P170 million for another study and waste time in addressing a pressing situation when there is already an existing study?

Check out the following, guys …

The Development of Public Tran sportation Strategic Plan for Metro Cebu Volume 1: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

“Panatag Shoal” — My latest Sun.Star Cebu column



Cebuanos sing against Bongbong Marcos

#NoMoreMarcos #NeverAgain #NeverForget

The shrill reactions of a handful of loyalists — of course with their dozens of dummy Facebook accounts — exposed something they could barely hide. They wished the concert never happened. But over 2,500 Cebuanos flocked to Plaza Independencia last April 17, 2016 for the “Cebu Against Marcos – The Concert.”

We listened to local alternative bands as we sang along with familiar songs of guest performers from Manila. From time to time, we chanted “No More Marcos. Never Again.” The loyalists, on the other hand, kept insisting only flies and mosquitoes came.

The lie that the Marcos years were the best, repeated a thousand times, still remains a lie. And a concert extolling the truth poses danger to that lie.





Marcos_victims, anti-Bongbong_campaign, Cebu, Philippines
Lighting candles in memory of  victims of the Marcos dictatorship.


A constant pro-Bongbong litany involves rants on the failures and shortcomings of the administration President Noynoy Aquino but with a twist. Bongbong is presented as the alternative.

The pro-Bongbong narrative hits those against his candidacy as pro-Aquino. Loyalists gleefully label anti-Bongbong partisans as “Yellowtards.” But they are simply wrong.

Yes, there are supporters of Cong. Leni Robredo within the Anti-Bongbong Coalition (ABC). But there are also supporters of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Chiz Escudero.

Karl Ramirez_and_Boogs_Villareal, Cebu_Against_Marcos
Karl Ramirez and Boogs Villareal

Listening to the music of Andres, a local alternative music band, along with Karl Ramirez and Boogs Villareal of ReverbNation, one should get a sense that the anti-Bongbong narrative goes beyond the Aquino-Marcos dynasties.

Thus, Karl and Boogs, two millennials who had not tasted the dictatorship, alludes to a change that is national democratic in “Pagbabago.”

“Laban natin ay tama
Tunay na reporma ng lupa
Makabulohang trabaho
At pagtatayo ng industriya ng bansa”

Noel_Cabangon, Cebu_Against_Marcos
Noel Cabangon

Noel Cabangon, on the other hand, opened his set with the “Tatsulok” that calls for ending the present system ruled by the political dynasties.

“Hindi pulat dilaw tunay na magkalaban
Ang kulay at tatak ay di syang dahilan
Hangga’t marami ang lugmok sa kahirapan
At ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman

Habang may tatsulok at sila ang nasa tuktok
Di matatapos itong gulo.”

Jim_Paredes, APO_Hiking_Society

Jim Paredes of the Apo Hiking Society brought me back a lifetime when we began trying to figure out the opposite sex with songs like “Ewan.” But those were the years when we also started exercising our rights as we wakened to bigger realities. Memories streamed as we sang along with “Batang Bata Ka Pa …”

“Alam ko na may karapatan ang bawat nilalang
Kahit bata pa man, kahit bata pa man

Nais ko sana malaman ang mali sa katotohanan
Sariling pagraranas ang pamamagitan
Imulat ang isipan sa mga kulay ng buhay
Maging tunay na malaya
‘Sang katangi-tanging bata”

Clenched_fist, Cebu_Against_Marcos
Clenched fist
Clenched_fists during anti_Marcos_concert
Spotted: Judge Menmen Paredes and Ka Bino Guerrero

Bayang Barrios and Cookie Chua, led the assembly sing the anthem of the anti-dictatorship movement, “Bayan Ko.”

Ibon mang may layang lumipad
Kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal-dilag
Ang ‘di magnasang makaalpas

Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha at dalita
Aking adhika
Makita kang sakdal laya

Bayang Barrios_and_Cookie_Chua


Street_Art, Cebu_Against_Marcos
This is work by street artists in Cebu City who joined Cebu Against Marcos — The Concert. This painting was stolen along with the tarpaulin backdrop after the concert.

Attention all anti-Marcos advocates. Feel free to post your comments below. Please share this post to friends and family in your social media channels.

Check out our Facebook page: Anti-Bongbong Campaign.

More photos:

Minnie Osmena, Menmen Paredes, Cebu
Minnie Osmena, daughter of Serging and elder sister of Tomas, talks briefly with Judge Menmen Paredes as Susan Echaves.