I go home to Cebu almost twice a year, but not during Sinulog. I go home during Summer or Christmas seasons. On my last trip to Cebu, which was three months ago, some of my relatives were encouraging me to try to go back for the most anticipated festival. They kept on building it up. Not that I'm interested in street parties and liquor horde, but I've been longing to witness the festival upclose as an adult. My last Sinulog was in Gradeschool while I was eating Cheez-It and sipping Coke on a plastic. I couldn't remember anything. I could only imagine when my aunts said that I did enjoy. All I have are pictures to prove that I did. So as soon as I got back from Cebu last October, I went online and booked a ticket for the Sinulog weekend. I guess Cebu is first on my 2010 travel list.
GOING TO CEBU:
My flight to Cebu was at 7 pm on January 15th, which meant that I had to grace work. Unfortunately, work at that day sucked. Issues sprung from nowhere. It was stressful. When I got to the airport, I wasn't festive. I had a hard time shaking it off.
As expected the huge plane was cramped with expats, balikbayans, tourists, Cebuanos or people like me looking for an escape. I can see the excited faces of the Tagalogs expecting a series of parties as soon as we'd land. For me, I just wanted to go home to the place I love and simply rest.
I was reading an interesting work by Jhumpa Lahiri when I slept until the end of the flight. When we landed, it was raining. People voiced their disappointment, but I shrugged with delight. I knew Sinulog will continue, rain or shine. It would've been funner if it rained, but imagine sick people flying back to their original location after weekend's over.
I got my bag and waited 30 minutes for my aunt, uncle, cousins and sister to pick me up. The crowd was just crazy. After the glorified arrival of my ride, we went straight to have hearty late night dinner at Nonki, our favorite authentic Japanese restaurant.
In between Sinulog I visited relatives of my mother. It's nice to see them again. It's nice to drive the streets of Metro Cebu. It's nice to entertain the thought of relocating. It made Manila seem such a bad place for me.
Naturally I ate a lot.
My sister experienced the SINULOG night life, I didn't. It's a matter of choice. I couldn't share anything fancy about the bar hoppings and drinking out, but I heard it was a blast especially along the Mango Avenue Stretch, The Loft, IT park and in Nivel. I can tell. The traffic, the lights and how my sister partied till morning were enough signs that it was extremely enjoyable.
Whereas for me, I experienced resting, strolling around in broad daylight, eating so in short the boring stuff for many. I experienced waking up at 6 am and marching the streets of Metro Cebu appreciating how dancers executed their routines, rain or shine. The costumes were insanely intricate. I could just imagine the "march-dance" extremely tiring. I smelled the competition in the air.
My cousins and I went with the Lahug contingent. My aunt being an elected official of the Baranggay, we got access to the whole event. It was some experience to watch the parade and another feeling to be actually in it. It was a great, humbling and unique experience for me.
I learned a few things:
1. SINULOG is a dance festival open to registered contingents all over the Philippines. Winners are mostly non-Cebuanos.
2. The competition is judged according to category. Contingents performing either: Sinulog Based or Free Interpretation. Sinulog Based are specific dances of giving praise to Sto. Nino. Free Interpretation is anything goes.
3. Judging covers the STREET Dance (all over the metro) and the STAGED presentation in Cebu Sports Complex.
4. The mood of choreographers, sponsors and supporters could be very intense. Never mess with them.
5. If you decide to watch Sinulog, prepare to walk long distances to parking space or getting a ride home.
As usual, the thought of going home sucks, but vacation had to end eventually. I packed my bags and thought of reasons of going back soon.
As expected, I was traveling with lots of tourists bound for Manila couldn't help but snicker at the thought that I had a packed CNT lechon with me, my aunt being a valued customer. I heard the lechon supplies were wiped last weekend. I also heard scary and desperate tourists battling it out for a kilo of lechon to take home. Intense.
PLANS OF GOING BACK?
Definitely. Permanent or Temporary? We'll see.