Sinulog Festival 2016: 16 Festival Survival Tips for Visitors
It’s that time of the year again for the 32-year-history of the mother of all festivals, where we do the one-step-forward-two-steps-backward dance in devotion to Señor Santo Niño, where we “shagit ug kusug, Viva Pit Senyor!”, shouting our hearts out to one beat, one dance and one vision, an encompassing event of the Cebuanos in a triple combination of religious unity, cultural display and never-ending street parties and concerts, Sinulog Festival 2016. For the complete schedule of activities and novena masses you can download a copy here.
This year, expect people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world to flock to the heart of the Sinulog Festival 2016 route in the Queen City to witness an extravaganza of the Cebuano’s devotion to the Niño with event highlights such as the Fluvial and Solemn Procession, Grand Parade and Street Dancing, Festival Queen, Miss Cebu, Sinulog Idol and Fuente Nightly Shows, Photo and Film Competition, Grand Finale and the Grand Fireworks display held at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
If it’s your first time to experience Sinulog Festival, then worry not for I, the King of Sinulog, will share some tips that I have gathered from various Sinulog articles online on how to survive this week-long event. Read on as I also share to you some personal advice based also from my experience on how to have a blast this Sinulog weekend!
1. Before rushing out to party, remember that Sinulog is all about Señor Santo Niño – Go to the Basilica and participate in religious activities first and thank God for everything.
2. Go find yourself a local who’s been to the battlefield a couple of times – This way, you’ll get the best deals to anything and also the fastest answers to all your questions.
3. Knowledge is power and also ‘diskarte’ – Have a copy of the Sinulog Festival 2016 schedule of activities and Sinulog 2016 third-party events and a detailed map of Cebu City ready through apps and social media, research in advance the cheapest restaurants, convenience stores, restrooms, jeepney routes, street shortcuts and road blocks. Plan your itinerary beforehand but be open still to last minute changes and other mishaps. Remember, it’s not so much in the destination, but the journey. Lastly, have dinner in places with roof decks in the city for the fireworks display and also a bird’s eye view of all the happenings.
4. Better plan ahead a scheduled meet-up at the city center – Choose a mall so that waiting could still be not boring or a coffeeshop with strong WIFI, a rendezvous point with specific times in advance, set for specific hours of the day.
5. Carry only necessities with you – This means cash (in small denominations), phone, atm card, gadgets (powerbanks, pocket wifi, tablet, GoPro) and waterproof pouches to seal all of them tight. If you’re carrying a bag with you, some good choices include a fanny pack or cross body bags to lessen the chance of your valuables being stolen when going inside big crowds.
6. Bring trail foods and water as if you are trekking Mount Everest – If you decide to buy from street concessionaires, don’t forget to haggle or better yet go to established sari-sari stores or convenience stores. Eat where the locals eat and do what the locals do.
7. Ready the medicine tablets (paracetamol, pain reliever, loperamide) – This will serve as a temporary remedy and also a whistle for dancing, also useful in managing human traffic in case of emergency.
8. Dress for comfort and the weather – Bring sunglasses, hats, face towels, extra shirt, sunblock, foldable umbrellas, round fan and etc. Expect to do a lot of walking and being under the sun the whole day so wear tough, comfortable, disposable shoes (no slippers please) and light colored clothing (the lesser the better) that are also disposable with no sentimental value or high price tag or better yet designate an official Sinulog attire you’ll wear every year.
9. Use alternative messaging apps like Viber or FB Messenger and other modes of communication – Expect busy and unreliable mobile networks, with messages arriving a few hours later. Load up your Globe and Smart sim cards for emergency calls as they are more reliable compared to other mobile networks.
10. Stay at a budget hotel along the Sinulog route for the best view to everything and please book in advance. – If you haven’t booked a room, find some place to crash no matter how jam-packed a friend’s hotel room is as long as there’s air-conditioning, you’ll be fine.
11. Expect to be enveloped in a sea of people and involuntarily do the wave – Yes, there will literally be human traffic. If you’re travelling with a group, better do the buddy system. Navigating through the streets, assign the tallest person to be the human lighthouse with matching colorful headgear in case some of you get separated.
12. There will be wet and wild parties along the way – This could be rain, water, or even a mixture of sweat, beer and other alcoholic drinks or even those from water guns and water cannons.
13. Pace your drinking but dance like nobody’s watching– Please control your liquor and also your behavior. You wouldn’t want to be detained inside a Kaohsiung bus, would you? No friend would enjoy carrying you for miles like dead weight.
14. Rest and do quick power naps – Literally anywhere away from the crowd inside establishments.
15. Bring a maximum of two friends with you (you’ll thank me later)– This way, you won’t be waiting for 10 people who are stuck in traffic. Better yet, go solo like I did since going alone makes you friendlier paving the way to meeting new and interesting people.
16. Turn your festive spirit on – Smile and laugh your hearts out, no drama, make friends with strangers, don’t be a fun killer, open your mind to the possibility that anything could happen.
So there you have it, a 16 step guide to surviving Sinulog Festival 2016. I guess you’re ready to go to the battlefield, which I mean the Sinulog Area. Again, here’s a link to a downloadable schedule of activities and novena masses on image format for portability and offline viewing. Have fun and Viva Pit Señor!