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Published: February 8th 2012
My year of adventures started with a very popular festival celebrated in Cebu City, Cebu. For the month of January, most Filipinos local to the Visayas region pay tribute to the Santo Niño, the baby Jesus. Different provinces have their own versions for their devotions but Sinulog is known to be the biggest and most visited.
Every year, Sinulog draws in millions of visitors for a weekend of culture, food, festivities (and alcohol!) After hearing about this for years, some friends and I decided to finally experience it!
It was a perfect break from the busy city. We flew in Friday night (just an hour away from Manila by plane) and went straight to where the celebrations were! Crossroads is a popular strip of bars and restaurants where the locals and visitors (mostly visitors, I think!) hit for the nightlife. Although a lot more laid back than Manila's, it was still a whole lot of fun! As with all nights with no rules, we ended pretty early... in the morning as we continued our gulo
at our hotel.
The next day, we woke up early to hit the beach! Despite Cebu being known for its beaches, the island
itself doesn't have any! The beauty though of a country with 7,107 islands is that the next beach is a quick boat ride away! A group as small as 8 or as big as 35 can reserve their own boat, bangka
, as it is locally called. There are many bangka companies, but I do suggest Islands Banca Cruises they're very accomodating and their semi-modified bangkas are very comfortable. We found ourselves on Pandanon Island, a little overcrowded but it was expected because of Sinulog. We found a quiet corner and spent the rest of the day laying on the beach and catching some sun. Most island tours come with a packaged lunch, do make sure they include the famed Cebu Lechon. A local dish to the Philippines but the Cebuanos infuse the roasted pig with lemon grass and other herbs and spices. Make sure you have some seafood too, nothing but fresh!
After a long day my friends and I just decided to have a few drinks at our hotel, Harold's (really great accomodations!). Don't forget to get your rest because the next day is going to be a long and crazy one, you'll need all your energy!
Although it is religious and historical in nature, remembering the Christening of Cebuanos back in the 1500s, the festival has grown into a huge celebration! The parade, that includes street dancers, drums, colorful costumes and even celebrities, is the main event. If you and your friends get there early, find a good spot where you can enjoy the parade and join the festivities. Have your face painted, buy whistles, drinks and go with it! Be ready to leave drenched. Drenched in paint, water, beer, alcohol and whatever else is around!
The parties and the drinking continue all throughout the city, all-night. The whole city is in full force celebration mode, it's pretty easy to fit right in and have a great time!
We flew back to Manila the next morning, bringing back headaches, paint stains, pasalubongs,
and such great memories! Trust me when I say you will go on days having Sinulog withdrawals!
363 more days to Sinulog 2013! See you there!
Island Banca Tours: http://www.islandsbanca.com/index.html
Harold's Hotel: http://www.haroldshotel.com/
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