History

“Pit Senyor kang Mama kini, Pit Senyor kang Papa kini..” is the chant completing devotees’ offering dance of Sinulog in honor of the miraculous Santo Niño.

A pageantry of faith, a festival held in honor of the Santo Nino, celebrating the origin of the island of Cebu–this is Sinulog.

Sinulog is a dance ritual in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Niño. The dance moves two steps forward and one step backward to the sound of the drums. This movement resembles the current (Sulog) of what was known as Cebu’s Pahina River. Thus, in Cebuano, it’s Sinulog.

Historians say that Sinulog is the link between the country’s pagan past and its Christian present.

Historical accounts say before Portuguese navigator came to Cebu on April 7, 1521 to plant the cross on its shore and claim the country for the King of Spain, Sinulog was already danced by the natives in honor of their wooden idols and anitos.

Then Magellan came and introduced Christianity. He gave the Santo Niño (image of the Child Jesus) as baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, wife of Cebu’s Rajah Humabon who was later named Queen Juana. At that time, not only the rulers were baptized but also about 800 of their subjects.

However, shortly after the conversion, Magellan died in an encounter with the reigning ruler of Mactan, Rajah Lapu-lapu, on April 27, 1521.What remained of Magellan’s men were able to return to Spain to report the incidentt. It took 44 years before a new group came and started formal Christianization of the islands. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived in Cebu on April 28, 1565. His ships bombarded the village and in one of the burning huts, one of his soldiers named Juan Camus found inside a wooden box the image of the Santo Niño lying side by side with native idols.

Historians now say that during the 44 years between the coming of Magellan and Legaspi, the natives continued to dance the Sinulog. This time, however, they danced it no longer to worship their native idols but as a sign of reverence to the Santo Niño which is now enshrined at the San Agustin Church (renamed Basilica Minore del Santo Niño).

Through the years since 1521, the dance was a small ritual by a few in front of wooden idols or before the Santo Niño. In fact, at the Santo Niño church where the image is consecrated, only the candle vendors could be seen dancing the Sinulog and making offerings.

During the Santo Niño fiesta, which falls on the third Sunday of January, children dressed in moro-moro costumes also dance the Sinulog. This was really no big event for Cebu City.

In 1980, however, David S. Odilao, Jr., then Regional Director of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development (MYSD), organized the first ever Sinulog parade. He gathered a group of students, dressed them up, taught them how to dance the Sinulog to the beating of the drums. It was a small parade really which went just around the Basilica, but it caught the imagination of the City of Cebu, which then thought of making the Sinulog a festival that would rival all other festivals being held yearly in the country.

Thus, under the direction of then Cebu City Mayor Florentino S. Solon, the Sinulog organization came into being. The first task of the organizing committee was how to conceptualize the festival and make it a big event.

In 1980, the local government had a grand and lucrative idea. The Sinulog fiesta at the time was an affair of local color. Held at the Basilica del Santo Niño, the feast-featured sinulog dancing performed by various groups to fulfill religious obligations. On the third Sunday of January each year, besides the faithful who joined the Sinulog to fulfill a panaad, the event began to attract an increasing number of tourists.

The Cebu City government thus planned to expand the Santo Nino feast celebration and bring this small, regional event to national prominence. In addition, there was an interest in preserving and promoting sinulog dancing as an example of the ” real and unique” Cebuano culture.

After the first year under the direction of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the Sinulog parade Was turned over to the mayor’s office which promptly exploited the commercial possibilities of the festival. Trade fairs, art exhibits, a film festival, and pop music events were added to the gravy train.

Sinulog ’81 was then organized. Practically all sectors in the Cebuano community got involved. To distinguish the festival from the popular Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan, the organizers decided to use the parade to depict the history of the Sinulog, which, as had been said, is the dance which links the country’s pagan past and Christian present. Seven floats were created to depict seven different periods of history. Each float were followed by dancers wearing costumes depicting the periods.

They all danced the same beat the Sinulog parade started at 1 P.M. at the Cebu Provincial Capitol and ended about midnight at Fort San Pedro-Plaza Independencia area. And the show continued until the wee hours of the morning.

61 comments

  1. kim says:

    interesting… i used some of the info for my research on the origin of the sinulog.

  2. Edgar says:

    I think Sinulog is from the words Saulog (celebration) and Sunog(burn, like lighting a candle)

    thanks,

    EDGAR

  3. jovy says:

    hope you can post a lot of pictures during the event, cause it makes me feel at home while im here in abroad. Viva Pit Señor !

  4. Leonita says:

    It’s Interesting stories. But I wanna Ask A Question?

    WHAT IS PIT?

    Because my husband ask me what is pit in pit senior.

    I hope you can give an answer, Thanks in advance

    Nita

  5. Cheryl Ocampo Gross says:

    SINULOG….we also celebrate it here in germany.Things like this i can never forget.We already miss it.thanks to you folks,that we can see pictures sinulog 2007. Viva Pit Senior….

  6. Cheryl Ocampo Gross says:

    SINULOG….we also celebrate it here in germany.Things like this i can never forget.We already miss it.thanks to you folks,that we can see pictures sinulog 2007. Viva Pit Senior….

  7. thanks im teaching history but the name of queen juana before baptized was not mentioned..i got new information now . thank u very much for publishing i gained more knowledge of our very own festivity

  8. i scanned the history of rajah humabon in cebu wikipedia , there was contrasting name of queen juana.. in the history of humabon his wife’s name is Ratu Humanay, in ur publication for sinulog 2007 its Hara Amihan. now im confused which of the two is the real name of queen juana before she was baptized. thank u so much.

  9. maricor coronel says:

    Viva Pit Senyor!!!

    Hope you can publish more video footage on the actual Sinulog Parade on the 21st…

    Mingaw nami sa Cebu, esp. Sinulog!!!

    Thanks…

    The Coronel’s
    1 Bluestone Walk, Delahey
    Victoria, Melbourne
    Australia
    3037

  10. Anthony says:

    What is Pit in Pit Senyor

    According to local folks it is actually Sangpit Senyor. You call (sangpit) to Senyor Sto Nino for all your petitions hence shortened to Pit Senyor. You can hear people shouting Pit Senyor kang Papa Kini etc.

    Happy Fiesta Everyone!!! Pit Senor

  11. aileen hayward says:

    Thanks for the information. Viva Pit Senor. Hope to see more video footage para feeling naa sad mi dha ba. Thanks Anthony for (SangPIT SENYOR) and to you EDGAR for (celebration and burn) SINULOG. Printed it all for future ref.

  12. GINA WANNA says:

    thank you very much for the beautiful pics. of the Senior Sto. Nino events, I really missed the fun. Viva SENIOR STO. NINO.
    From,
    Gina (THAILAND)

  13. morez says:

    VIVA PIT SENYOR

  14. Jose Escopin says:

    Thanks for the info. We do celebrate the feast of Sto. Niño here in Valencia, Spain among Filipinos and friends. We can add this info for next year’s “folletos” and maybe a video could help.

  15. Hana Smith says:

    Its so nice to read about the the origin of our Patron in Cebu. I really miss going everyday in the church to join the Novena before the feast.But even i’m faraway i always have the Sto.Nino
    in my heart.

  16. errol says:

    i just want to ask;
    – can you site reasons why do Filipinos celebrate the feast of the Child Jesus(sto. Nino) other than its origin?

  17. abra says:

    Viva Senyor Santo Ninyo!prayer to everyone outhere and each of our family that Sto. Ninyo may guide us through this journey and that we may prosper in all the thing we do.

    Love and PRayer

    FroM San Joquin VALLEY CALIFORNIA!!
    LiVINGSTON>>>>>.209 AREA!

  18. INDAY MYRNA says:

    GREAT… PIT SENYOR

  19. genesis says:

    i hope that you can start the history of Sto. Niño before presenting the History of Sinulog. i think that would be a better choice, because that’s the reason why sinulog came to existence. it is an act of worhip because, that little child is our Lord. as Jesus siad, Whoever doesn’t receives like a child shall not enter in the kingdom of God.

  20. VisionInChrist says:

    People who read this message; I just want to share with you, about what I believe & feel in Santo Nino.
    Jesus Christ, wants to be worship not in the dead of Wooden Idol made by a hands of men by there own fantasy, of how Jesus would look like when He was a little boy.
    Jesus Christ is alive; who sees the heart of His people; that suffer of there ignorance of the truth; of what the bible has to say about the history from the begining of the world to the end.
    Our people in Philippines lives in the wilderness of a storm of life of puberty…Think of our people who doesn’t know the truth of what Jesus has done into their lives.
    ” I did know what Jesus Christ has done into my life; by His grace ” If you want to know the story of my life, why I became who I’ am now ” Ask me questions and I try to tell you; of what I believe in life ”
    Santo Nino; He is out of the picture; why.? Because Jesus Christ died on the cross at the age of 33 yrs old; and resurrected after 3 days of His death.!!!

    Take care and may God bless u…
    VisionInChrist

  21. maryanne says:

    this is in response to Leonita about the PIT in PIT SENYOR! i believe that is a short cut for the word SAMPIT in the Visayan dialect, which means CALLING or PRAISING. the Sinulog Festivities is actually a thanksgiving celebration and we Cebuanos are calling SENYOR SANTO NIÑO to give us more blessings, to guard us from harm as well as our loved ones, and to guide us to do what is good and expected of us. i hope i had been helpful in a way~ take care always and may SENYOR SANTO NIÑO bless you and your family and the rest of the Filipino people and also the whole wide world. PIT SENYOR!

  22. paris says:

    thanks for the information. its very useful to me for my ass.ty…

  23. Danisa says:

    it’s nice to know the origin of Sinulog..

  24. Nelson says:

    Seguro sinulog is from sulog like binuhat gikan sa buhat. Just a basic Cebuano infix.

  25. elsie says:

    PIT SENYOR EVERYONE! AND I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU TO ALL THE STAFFS WHO ORGANIZE THIS WEBSITE… IT FEELS TO BE HOME… AND POSTS A LOT OF PICTURES DURING THE SINULOG FESTIVAL…

    THANKS & GOD BLESS US ALL…
    ELSIE
    DALLAS, TEXAS

  26. im proud to a cebuano, and i miss my family in cebu,
    PIT SENYOR
    edna from Bonneylake W. A

  27. carol says:

    Thank you for the well-written history, the origin, the meanings and the resulting comments on sinulog and pit senor! Thank you for the beautiful photos and videos. Indeed, it brings back memories … in Sinulog ’82, I was one of the dancers representing my school in the parade; I remembered dancing on Jones Avenue and some folks offered us ice water about 2 pm. How time flies and how creative and well-choreographed the dances on the streets are now. I am very proud of Cebu folks and the organizers. It’s simply amazing! Awesome! It may be a paganistic ritual but deep in our hearts we, Cebuanos, love our Lord Jesus Christ, our God. Today 1/19/08 there are several Catholic churches in Chicago and suburbs that celebrate the Sto. Nino fiesta.

  28. carol says:

    Daghang kaayong salamat! Viva Pit Senor!

  29. butch delgra says:

    i came acroos an article years ago about miraculous stories of the Sr. Sto. Nino which were handed down through generations and one of which is that in the 17th or 18th century when the spaniards decided to move the capital of the colony from Cebu to Manila, repeated attempts of transferring or moving the Statue there were unsuccessful. there was a story where the Statue was placed in multiple layers of sealed wooden boxes and in one instance reportedly had one of the Statue’s legs cut off. each time the ship arrived in Manila empty. the Sr. remained in Cebu. it is very fitting to say that we have been blessed for our continued devotion.

  30. ram says:

    thanks for the information.
    happy Sr. sto. nino.. PIT SENYOR!!!

  31. aileen says:

    hi na miss kaayo nako ang sinulog sa cebu last time nako kita sa sinulog back 1989. nice to see the photo sa sinulog . aileen and clive. england

  32. Someone says:

    wow! You really gave sinulog importance

  33. RYan unTAL says:

    whoa!! this article is amazing!! i am a 1st yer student and a cebuano!! heheheh…… may kaayo ko mo inglish no??? thanks for this article! ist grate! hey if u wana chat here is my yaho messenger ilovewar12@yahoo.com

  34. Neil says:

    Viva Pit Senyor! para sa tanan Kini.

  35. INDAY MYRNA says:

    “VIVA SENYOR SANTO NINYO” I was there last year 2008. First time naku nakasaksi sa Sinulog sa Cebu. Very great, unfortunately can’t go home this fiesta.

    “VIVA PIT SENYOR” Happy Fiesta sa taga Luyang, Carmen on Feb.1, likewise to the people of Cebu City and the devotees who flock to Cebu from all over the world.

  36. Joji Estilo says:

    Carol, just like you, I was in the first Sinulog parade with the Cebu Plaza Hotel group (employees were made to participate), our leader was Sir Steve Alfafara. I remember we were waiting for our turn to go, just standing around under the heat of the sun (no choreography yet and no costume, just jeans and white shirt with the hotel logo), we got thirsty so we went inside Tung Yan restaurant ‘coz we were in front of the restaurant (wonder if it’s still around). The last time I joined the Sinulog was 1984, the year I left for California for a short stop, then on to Illinois. Carol, are you also in Chicago? Bisaya Circulo will have the Sinulog celebration on Jan. 18th at Christ the King Church in Lombard, hope you can attend. Anyway, Pit Senyor to everybody and happy fiesta to all the Cebuanos.

  37. wanskybelle says:

    PIT SEñOR SANTO NIñO!!!!!!!!

    MAO NI ANG BUGTONG MGA PULONG NGA AKONG NASANGPIT, WHEN MY 2 MOS. OLD BABY FAINTED BEC.OF DEHYDRATION,FOR MY EYES, SHE WAS DEAD FOR SECONDS! I KEPT ON DANCING THE SINULOG. SINGING “VIVA PIT SEñOR SANTO NIñO” & LIFTED HER UP INTO THE AIR.THEN SHE CAME BACK TO ME…
    GOD IS GREAT!!!!!!!!

    I REALLY MISS TO ATTEND THE SINULOG MASS, ITS 2 YRS AGO, & I HAVE TO WAIT FOR ANOTHER 2 YEARS BEFORE I WILL BE BACK TO PHILIPPINES.

    I WISH YOU CAN PUBLISH A PICTURE IN THE PILGRIM CENTER DURING THE SINULOG CELEBRATION.

    I MISS CEBU A LOT!!!!!!!!
    THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR MAKING THIS WEBSITE……..

    WANSKY_BELLE
    GABORONE,BOTSWANA

  38. Brian of Abu Dhabi says:

    Even if am in an Arabic country its not a hindrance to practice my Christian belief.I really do miss the Sinulog although every other year i attend.With this Economic crisis and war between Palestine and Israel,its one of my main prayers to SR. SANTO NINO.I hope that to my fellow Roman Catholics and Christians that we should include it in our petitions to the Miraculous STO. NINO de CEBU!!!!Wish you all the best to the organizers of this years FIESTA SENYOR!!!VIVA PIT SENYOR!!!!

  39. arnel says:

    —>carmen cebu is the origin of sinulog try to see this last sunday of january…

  40. Jhenny says:

    Hi!I hope I can watch the live coverage thru internet online of the grand parade!I really miss being there in cebu for sinulog!viva pit senyor!

  41. alberth says:

    i miss the 2009 sinulog festival but after rading the history i felt like i’m present during the celebration… thankz…

  42. jun amigable says:

    viva pit! senyor santo nino,kay kami hugot man kaayo ang among pag-too sa mahal nga bata.mao ning ang among kaponungan sa mga bisaya sa austria mag-saulog kami ug dakong fiesta diri sa vienna,sa ikatulong domingo sa enero.duna kami misa pahinungod sa santo nino human sa misa ang tanan nga nanambong niining celebation kay fiesta man lagi dunay libreng pani-udto eat and drink as you can!kini giambagan sa mga bisaya nga panaaran kada tuig,human sa pani-udto magsugod dayon ang sinulog.kay amoa man kining nahibaw-an nga kon unsa ang imong e share sa kataw-han,hasta kapila pil-a ang grasya nga mobalik kanimo.
    daghang salamat!junamigable kba officer vienna,austria europe

  43. leo says:

    puerting kaalegre jud sa sinulog 2009,naule jud me, grabe as in feel jud kaayo ang bongga nga feasta ne SNR.STO NINO de CEBU, inside the basilica you can feel home and comfort as you come to see STO. NINO
    smiling. Batobalani sa gugma, rmmber dat song? PIT SENYOR! ! !england

  44. glenn avila says:

    During theearly days of the Sinulog, it is been always our task, the ROTC of now a new University (formerly Cebu School of Atrs and Trades) to cordon -off the the Basilica until the Fetivites is over, And I am proud of our cotribution, with Sto. Nino’s Blessing, we succeeded. Valiant Victors class of 1982=83

  45. hubert says:

    thanks for the info..
    ..it was a perfect and complete information ’bout the SINULOG
    please continue this..
    ..i like to see more pictures

  46. cyril says:

    thank u kaayo kay nakatabang ni sa ako assignment!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Ed says:

    The Sinulog Festival is a grand and most important celebration not only for Cebuanos but for Filipinos in general. For it is in Cebu where the early and initial roots of Christianity were planted and sprouted to disperse all over the Philippines.

    It is through the Divine Intercession of the Holy Child Jesus (Sto. Nino) that the Philippines is now the largest Christian nation in the Far East and probably the single largest nationality of Catholic Christians.

    The Sinulog Festival should be a national celebration of yearly thanksgiving to God by the Filipino people for being divinely chosen to be a predominantly Catholic nation the world over.

    Long live the Sto. Nino, Viva El Senor!

  48. nicola ylaya says:

    Nowhere in the bible that says God allows that pagan practices may be purffied
    and Christianized? In the bible it clearly says that God forbids his people to
    follow the ways of the pagans and it is an insult to God to honour Him in a
    pagan way, you will find so many verses in the bible when God was angry because
    of paganism adopted by His people and because of it they were punished with
    famines and pestilences and other calamities. Have you ever wonder why the
    Philippines is prone to calamities? because of idolatry and paganized Christianity.
    And the use of graven images (imahen) is idolatry which God’s forbids and violates the second commandment Praying to saints is unbiblical, saints are not
    Living God, they are dead, the bible tells us to worship and pray direct to God,
    no one else and if we pray to a dead saints it is not only idolatry( they are
    false gods) but also occultic which is calling the spirits of dead people through
    prayers. The canonized saints if you examine their biographies and the
    miracles they perfomed you will be surprise, they are occultic mysticism such as
    levitation, stigmata and psychic power. How can they be saints? and in the bible
    saints are those who are believer in Christ, saved Christians are the true saints
    of God and not the saints that were canonized. In the bible there is no such thing
    as canonized saints, all believers in Christ are called saints. If you search the
    bible diligently you will know that God has no agreements with paganism and
    to say that pagan practices are purified and Christianized is ignorant of the
    word of God in the bible.

  49. nicole says:

    @nicola:

    Quoting your statement: “Have you ever wonder why the Philippines is prone to calamities? because of idolatry and paganized Christianity.”

    I defer to believe that natural calamities is a form of punishment sent by God. If this is the case, then why is the flood happening in Manila and not in Cebu who worships the Sto Nino?

    You talk about occultic activities of people, and yet I would believe that you are doing this at some point in your life. I bet a hundred bucks you celebrate Christmas and New Year — even buy firecrackers! But yet, firecrackers are believed by ancient Chinese to drive out evil to start the year with.

    Celebrating the Sinulog is no pagan practice. It is pure expression and celebration of faith. Deep in our hearts we know we are calling God and not the spirit of some wooden material (if that’s what you think).

    Next, you’re talking about saints… stigmata, levitation, etc.

    Is it not in the Bible that some extraordinary people experience unexplained miracles? It seems you know a lot about the Bible, so let me mention Elijah’s great miracles, the Apostles’ healing gifts, Elizabeth conceiving at advanced age, and so on. Saints and miracles still happen to this very day even if the Biblical accounts or scrolls have ended.

    I know you’re not Catholic, and I respect that. But please, don’t try to insult our reverence to the Sto Nino on this post. As far as I’m concerned, we don’t insult non-Catholics and born again Christians. After all, Christ is the root of our belief.

    Why don’t you try converting “the true pagans”? They are the ones who do not know Jesus yet. Go to the deep depths of Amazon, you’ll see true pagans and relics who need your enthusiasm.

  50. ophel ophel says:

    we must read bible,this is all for us to read and understand it,and in order to know more about our only true and living God.”Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God,we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold,or silver,or stone graven by art and man’s device”.ACTS 17:29.

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