Readying your Sinulog arsenal

Photo by Aldo Nelbert Banaynal of The FREEMAN. Grabbed from

Since the inception of the Sinulog Grand Parade almost four decades ago, hundreds of thousands of tourists and devotees have been coming in droves to the Queen City of the South, either to pay homage to the image of the Infant Jesus or to simply take part in the revelry.

But, whatever your reason maybe, finding yourself in the middle of Osmeña Boulevard on a hot Sinulog Sunday (or Saturday, if you decided to join in the procession) would subject you to the chaos of the festivity.

First you would be captivated by the beautiful costumes, the extensive and gigantic props, floats, and the higantes. And then the feeling of being flooded with too many people would start to sink into your system, add the burning heat of the sun into the equation, and you might find yourself in a corner trying to catch your breath.

Did I mention that transportation is impossible to come across in almost all major roads in the city? This would mean walking for miles and for hours under the blazing heat of the sun. You would be lucky if the weather would be cooperative and you would be given some cloud cover; but almost often, the Sinulog sun will be blazing, also wanting to take part in the revelry down below.

Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if all these would not discourage you from going out to contribute your own enthusiasm to the deliriously increasing excitement in the atmosphere. You could swear that by mid-day you would be able to taste, smell, feel, and see the excitement hanging in Cebu’s overly-saturated air, or that could just be the air pollutants increasing in volume.

Nevertheless, it would be wise to complete your arsenal before going out to face the Sinulog crowd. Here’s a rundown of things that might prove to be vital for you to make the most of your Sinulog experience:

1. Water. There will be water stations along the parade route, but this should not prevent you from carrying your own liter of filtered water. Spike it with some minerals to ensure that you would not be dehydrated after sweating profusely the whole day. A homemade rehydration concoction would only require you to mix one liter of chlorinated tap water with a teaspoon of salt and four teaspoons of sugar. That should give you the minerals and energy you’d need for a whole day of walking under the fiery heat of the Sinulog sun, without you spending much on commercial products as Gatorade or Powerade.

2. Map. Bring a map with markings of important points like the parade route, water stations, medical stations, and even where the bleachers are, if you want to be able to sit and get the best view of the parade. Of course, it won’t be a surprise if you find the bleachers to be full to the brim, the reason for the next tip. Here's a link to a map that could be of use.

3. Foldable/portable chair. This may be a bit bulky if you decide to take a walk after you realize that you’ve seen enough of the dances. But, should you decide to finish the parade, sitting in one place or in different points along the parade route, it would be wise to bring your own chair because unless you get to the bleachers early, comfort will be a great challenge. And if you’re not comfortable, you would not enjoy the parade just as much.

4. Umbrella. Rain or shine, umbrellas will always come in handy, especially if you are to spend most of your day outdoor. You can also opt to bring a hat, wear long sleeves, or have a shawl handy. Try to cover as much skin as you can, but make sure that whatever you’ll be wearing, you are comfortable in it. Cotton is much more preferable because it is cooler. Light colored clothes are also preferable than dark ones, which absorbs too much heat.

5. Sunscreen lotion. Climate change, global warming, ozone depletion - all these have contributed to the increasing amount of UV rays penetrating into our atmosphere and eventually ending up being absorbed into our systems. Too much exposure to UV rays can cause cancer, but with sunscreen lotions applied every two hours, this harmful effect could be prevented. Choose one with a higher SPF (45 up) to ensure that you will be getting maximum protection. Make sure that the lotion will protect you from both UVA and UVB.

6. Schedule of events. Sinulog also spells PARTY, so better be ready to party after the parade. Having a schedule of the different events happening in the city would come in handy, should you choose to hop from one party venue to another. It would also be wise to know what to expect from these places once you are there, because surely you would not want to hop from place to place most of the time, given the fact that traffic will be at its worst. (For a schedule of the church events, click here).

7. Snacks. Food would not be a worry to you as there will surely be hundreds of food stalls spread all over the parade route. However, you should be wary with what you put in your mouth; the reason why bringing some snack items to munch on might be a good idea. Also, most of those selling along the parade route would surely take advantage of the influx of customers and so the fares they are selling would most likely be priced ridiculously high.

If you already have these items in your arsenal, then you can be assured of a safe, comfortable, and truly enjoyable Sinulog celebration.

Pit Senyor!

In the coming days leading to the Sinulog Festival, I am reposting the stories I wrote on the Sinulog in order to help devotees better enjoy the festivity. This article first appeared in The FREEMAN on January 12, 2010.


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