Words and Illustrations by Denise J. Mallabo
Essential items to surviving one of the rowdiest festivals in the Philippines
Cebu’s Sinulog festival is one of the wildest gatherings in the country. It has the ability to wake up muscles you didn’t even know you had, what with all the street dancing and walking you’ll do from the time you step out of your haphazardly parked car to the end of the procession. In this kind of assembly, you must dig deep and unleash your inner boy/girl scout in order to face a battle of extreme agility and strength, and muster the willpower to hold your pee (although this is not advisable).
This writer was a Sinulog virgin until recently. If not for the kindness of Cebuano friends who gave me pointers on what and what not to bring and wear, I wouldn’t have survived. There were so many do’s and don’ts but for my next trip to Sinulog (and maybe yours, too), I’ll be ready with at least five out of the seven items on this list:
You‘ll murder your feet if you wear heels or really tough boots. Imagine dancing and standing for hours wearing the aforementioned. Flip-flops are also a big no-no for Sinulog, unless you have masochistic tendencies, and get off on having your feet trampled by thousands. Your call. Put on your most comfortable sneakers so walking and dancing are a breeze.
If you like to get drunk but can’t handle your alcohol too well (i.e. sleeping in the gutter, picking a fight with total strangers, spewing vomit anywhere and everywhere), you are what they call a “hassle.” Make sure you do not go alone to Sinulog, and make sure that at least one of your companions can play the “reliable one” so you can party like a rock star. Remember, after Sinulog, make sure to treat said friend to dinner—I hope that’s enough—for putting up with all the craziness you put the unfortunate soul through.
There’s nothing like documenting the craziness that is Sinulog! This is definitely a must because after the festival, chances are, everything will seem like a blur due to numbers two and seven. It’s nice to have something to remind you—more or less—of what really happened during your Sinulog experience via photos that you or your friends took.
WATERPROOF BELT BAG
Somebody told me it often rains during Sinulog, but even if it doesn’t, it’s still good to be prepared. It’s not advisable to lug a big bag or even a backpack because the bigger the bag, the greater your tendency to stuff it with useless things, making it next to impossible to carry. I know the belt bag won’t give you extra pogi (handsome) or ganda (pretty) points but it has enough space for your other necessities (i.e. money, mobile phone, point & shoot digicam, tissue, lighter, etc.), and besides, you need both arms to throw in the air, while dancing and screaming: “Pit Señor! Pit Señor!”
If Halloween is a good excuse for people to don costumes, Sinulog is a good excuse to get hammered. Liquor (or any fluid that would result in light-headedness) is available on any corner. Ladies and those with bladder problems be warned: there’s a scarcity of public toilets during this time, and if by some chance you find one, the queue would be endless.
‘ERB (also known as weed, ganja, bakes, dope, schwag, chongki, etc.)
This is optional, but for the majority of those who would really, really like to have the complete Sinulog experience, why not take a whiff? You only live once, right? Just remember, in the immortal words of The Mighty Diamonds, “Pass the kutchie ‘pon the lef’ hand side.”
Originally published in UNO March 2010 issue
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