It started out simple enough: we went to IT Park to take my sister to work. 

And have some pad thai at Sugbo Mercado, probably some coffee. The next thing I knew, we were speeding down Jones Avenue to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino to pay a visit. It was well past 12 midnight.

The streets around the church were packed.

I guess it never truly empties. The Basilica is open at all hours on the day before the feast. The people in and around the church is a mix of vendors and pilgrims keeping vigil for the mananita mass that was to begin in a few hours. 

This is my first midnight visit to the Sto. Nino. 

All my Sinulog celebrations were late afternoons spent watching some floats, getting some poster paint on my face and watching fireworks, then retiring to some nearby hotel lobby to let the crowd disperse--- the usual stuff. There was one odd time where I found myself at Baseline but I made boyfriend make a U-Turn and we had some ramen instead. 

Tonight, instead of raves and poster paint parties, we light candles.

The pilgrim center is, well, a center for pilgrims. 

I only got the meaning of the name after seeing how many of them were camped out at the courtyard. Most of them are sleeping, some passing the time taking selfies. Regardless, the atmosphere around the church is electric and full of quiet anticipation. It's a kind of feeling I've never quite experienced during daytime.

Sinulog is prayer done in the form of dance. 

It is an offering made to the Child Jesus, the Sto Nino. One of the candle vendors does the offering for us. She is old and frail-looking but she still dances to the beat that's been in her bones all these years: the beat that mimics the flow of the river, or sulog. That's where the name Sinulog comes from.

I think what's beautiful about Sinulog is the fact that the 400 year old tradition is alive to this very day.  

Imagine Queen Juana of Cebu being given the image of the Holy Child as a baptism gift, and jumping for joy and dancing the very first Sinulog--- says one version of the tale. This is how our ancestors expressed praise and prayer: through dance. And that just speaks a lot about our culture, doesn't it? It's vibrant and alive and entirely our own and I am proud to be part of it.

We offer our prayers.  A light drizzle comes. The crowd builds. We take some photos. Or, my mom and dad make me take photos of them doing "blogger poses." I don't know if they know what they're doing. Then there's me--- an only child for a night. :)

Most of the Basilica is still half asleep when we make our way out. But they come alive in a few hours, when the drums start to beat and the arms start waving to the sound of Bato Balani sa Gugma.

For now, we make our escape.

Pit Senyor, everyone! I hope you had a safe and wonderful Sinulog celebration!

Mine sure was a new experience. :)

Til the next fiesta,

K x

No comments