Cebu-Island of many Festivals

Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - August 25, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Certain city streets are again in a traffic jam today. While traffic jams are becoming a common scene in the city, it is different today. Its cause is a merry one – not the usual, nerve-wrecking standstill while everyone is racing to get somewhere.

Well, to a certain extent, today’s traffic jam is still likely caused by a race to get somewhere – to the Cebu City Sports Complex in particular, the venue of “Pasigarbo sa Sugbo.” Some would mistake it as a Sinulog activity of sorts, but it’s not. It’s a performance organized by the Province of Cebu purposely to showcase the ‘treasures’ of its towns.

Spectators expect to see real variety of the presentations in today’s “Pasigarbo sa Sugbo,” since each participating town has its own distinct ‘treasure’ to promote. There’s revelry, for sure – music and dancing especially. Cebu has since established its festival identity with its own brand of gaiety, pageantry, and frolic.

Yes, starting with Cebu City’s “Sinulog” festival, the exuberance has spread to the rest of the island province. Perhaps of all the Philippine provinces, Cebu has the most number of festivals. And with Cebu’s stable of artistic talents, its festivals are always vivacious, entertaining, and grand.

Most of the festivals are timed with religious celebrations in the towns. The festival is the secular counterpart of the town parish’s commemoration of the feast day of its patron saint. Considering the religiosity of Filipinos in general, a town fiesta always draws crowds of visitors.

It is safe to say that there is a festival taking place somewhere in Cebu the whole year round, every year. Here’s a few of those:

Pintos Festival; Bogo City

Pintos-making is a traditional home industry in Bogo City. Pintos is a local delicacy made from grated young corn, condensed milk, and eggs. The festival takes place on May 26 and 27, around the fiesta of the city’s patron saint, Saint Vincent Ferrer.

Haladaya Festival; Daanbantayan

The festival, held on August 30, is said to offer homage to the pioneering leader of Daanbantayan town – Datu Daya. The datu reportedly protected the local people of the place from pirate attacks during the Spanish regime. The Haladaya Festival is timed with the feast of Saint Rose of Lima, the town’s patron saint.

Silmogue Festival; Borbon

There is a local legend in Borbon of a ship with a cargo of gold that would magically appear in the town’s Silmogue River and sail out to the open sea. The people who would claim to have themselves seen the mysterious ship of gold are now all gone, and there has not been any new sighting of the ship for quite a long time already. Perhaps the legend is merely symbolic of the potential good that Borbon can ‘ship out’ to the world – its people, whose services, both personal and professional, are now enjoyed by other people in various countries of the world. The Silmogue Festival, held every January 20, is also a celebration of the town’s biggest body of flowing fresh water – and of the feast of Saint Sebastian, the town’s patron saint.

Karansa Festival; Danao City

The “karansa” is a spontaneous dance expressing utter excitement and happiness. The official festival choreography consists of four basic steps: “kiay,” “karag,” “kurug” and “kurahay,” all local descriptions of the movements that jibes with the official “Karansa” beat. The Karansa Festival is a merry street dancing held on the third Sunday of September, during Danao City’s annual fiesta in honor of its patron saint, Santo Tomas de Villanueva.

Kabayo Festival; Mandaue City

Spearheaded by owners and lovers of horses, the festival is aimed at promoting tourism, particularly ecotourism and agro-industrial tourism, to highlight how Mandaue City takes care of the environment amid the city’s industrialization. Held within the month of February, the festival features a parade of horses. There’s also the usual line of horse-drawn carriages made into a bazaar and flea market selling local products.

La Torta Festival; Argao

It is a new name to the old Pitlagong Festival, held every September 29, during the feast of the Argao’s patron saint, Saint Michael the Archangel. The La Torta Festival is a celebration of the famous Argao torta, a rich sponge cake of Spanish origin, which has been a home industry in the town since way, way back. Torta is produced in abundance in the homes at fiesta time, to serve to guests and to give to visitors to take home.

Sinulog Festival; Cebu City

It is the grandest of Cebu’s festivals; in fact, it is touted as “the biggest fiesta of the Philippines!” The Sinulog Festival takes place every third Sunday of January in the main streets of Cebu City. During the week leading to the Sinulog Parade, the city sizzles with festivities and draws multitudes of visitors from all over the country and abroad. While the Sinulog Festival is supposedly the secular side of the feast of the Señor Santo Niño (Holy Child Jesus), it’s hard to separate it from the religious side – street partygoers would still be chanting “Pit Senyor!,” a supplication to the Holy Child for blessings.

Those festivals are just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” – there’s so many more to come upon in Cebu. There’s Kabkaban Festival in Carcar, Banig Festival in Badian, Kinsan Festival in Aloguinsan, Bakasi Festival in Cordova, Palawod Festival at Bantayan Island etc. It is true – it is festival time the whole year round in Cebu!

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