Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sinulug 2006- the fluvial and grand religious processions

For almost two decades now, my family and I have been attending the Sinulog grand religious procession held every third Saturday of January. It is only on this day that the entire city center of Cebu would be closed and for five hours no less. The procession is in honor of the Blessed Child Jesus or the Sto Niño and no one really complains, gridlock and business interruption notwithstanding.

sinulog 2006 - early morning procession
the Mandaue procession at the Ouano wharf (photo by my wife)

In about two weeks from now, it would be that time of the year and in anticipation of the event, let me take you to a pictorial flashback two years ago.

Our day started early at dawn. The afternoon before, on Friday, the holy images of the Lady of Guadalupe, Cebu’s patroness and the Blessed Child Jesus, were brought to the St. Joseph Parish Church in Mandaue City for an overnight vigil. By early morning on Saturday, the two icons were carried in a procession in the streets to the wharf of Ouano for the customary fluvial procession along the Mandaue-Mactan Channel.

sinulog 2006 - fluvial parade ferries
the fluvial procession at Mandaue (photo by my wife)

If there were one perk of working in a company located in Ouano compound, this was it, and we had a front-row vantage point of the proceedings. We climbed onto the roof of the office and got close-up shots as the procession came by. While we weren’t able to get into a boat for the fluvial procession, we joined the thick crowd in a send-off at the Ouano wharf. As you could see in the picture, the sea of humanity who joined in the rites was astonishing.

the priest is a flickr addict?
The images being loaded into the boat for the fluvial parade. Note the priest taking photos of the Sto Niño. He is Fr. Pederito Aparece, OSA aka prncwr in flickr
Camera: Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/50s, f/5.6, 49mm, ISO 100

The fluvial procession headed off to the port of Cebu and a celebratory parade ushered the images to the Basilica where a reenactment of the christening of the Cebu rajah in 1521 was performed. A holy mass capped off the events in the morning.

sinulog 2006 - sto. niño enters the fluvial parade
the “galleon” boat bearing the images of the Holy Child and Mother, Mandaue City, Cebu, the Philippines (photo by my wife)

Although the grand religious procession started at 1:30PM, as always, we went to the city at 10AM to get a select parking spot. Park spaces are a premium come Sinulog time and we needed a place that was close enough to the Basilica del Sto Niño but just outside the perimeter route of the procession so that we would not get trapped. Our meeting place with friends and family was the nearby Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral. We joined the procession promptly at the start of the parade.

the Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral, Cebu City, the Philippines
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/20, 41mm, ISO 100

Hundreds of thousands of faithful attended the religious procession. The participants marked the parade with solemn prayers, hymns and recitations of the holy rosary.

sinulog 2006 - approaching sto. niño
the image of the Holy Child (photo by my wife)

For crowd control, the parade route was roped by students. Distinctly, I still can remember giving such mandatory service during Sinulog time. Today, students still do this as part of their co-curricular military or community training in year 1 and 2 in college. I am pleased that nowadays, female students are required the same chore. This is gender equality. Up to the early 90s, only men get the “honor”.

at the Osmena Boulevard, Cebu City, Cebu, the Philippines
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/160s, f/8, 55mm, ISO 100

The route was circuitous and extended at least 5 kilometers. In one strip in Jakosalem St, parents decided to dress up their kids as angels for the Holy Child. Perched on a makeshift bleacher, they surely enjoyed the attention from procession-goers. With our feet aching, we delighted in taking a respite and I took photographs of the cherubs.

at Jakosalem St, Cebu City, the Philippines
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/8, 47mm, ISO 100

It was so wickedly hot that afternoon and I took pity on the children. They were certainly instructed to do their duty to “watch” over the crowd despite the heat. One kid was lucky as she had a parasol to keep up her poise.

at Jakosalem St, Cebu City, the Philippines
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/200s, f/6.3, 49mm, ISO 100

Although the procession started early, the Sto Niño carroza only emerged from the Basilica del Sto Niño past 3PM due to the thickness of the crowds.

sinulog 2006 - the crowd at its thickest
the thick crowd participating in the procession (photo by my wife)

As we were with the early pack, we arrived early and had time to attend mass at the nearby Cathedral at 4:30PM. The Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral literally became a haven for procession-goers, weary from the walk around the city.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 4/5s, f/6.3, 18mm, ISO 100
the Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral during the Sinulog procession

Afterwards, we even had an hour to burn before the Sto Niño arrived.

a closer look of the Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 4s, f/22, 18mm, ISO 100

At 6:30PM, the Holy Child finally passed by the Cathedral. Everyone fell to a hush. In prayer, balloons were set free, handkerchiefs were waved in the air and implorations escaped from the lips of the faithful. A feeling of awe and humility fell on everybody.

People became one.

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Amanda said...

I love some of the moments you have documented. I actually have a couple questions regarding them. My email is mandyjb18@hotmail.com if you would drop me a note (because i dont see an email contact here) Thanks!

Tee said...

How can I get your permission to use two of your photos? Thank you.