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What happens in Sinulog 2021 amid COVID-19

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Jan 12, 2021 8:16 am

Just like the Traslacion, Cebu’s Sinulog festival is heavily affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Held every third Sunday of January, the Sinulog is both a religious and cultural festival, one of the the most well-known in the Philippines. The festival is traditionally celebrated with novena masses at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño and a street parade.

This year's Sinulog falls on Jan. 17.

But earlier this month, organizers of the Sinulog festival announced that all non-religious activities for the event will be cancelled.

These cancelled events include the festival street parade and the Sinulog grand ritual showdown.

The organizers initially wanted to hold the ritual showdown—a dance competition done yearly, with participants vying for millions of pesos in prizes—at the South Road Properties without an audience. Then, they opted to let the contingents of the dance competition record their performance at home, with the videos to be edited into one program that will be streamed online and aired on local TV.

But that is cancelled, too. In an interview with Rappler, Cebu City Vice Mayor Mike Rama, the lead convenor of this year’s Sinulog, said this is due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in Cebu City after the holidays.

Rama added that they hope to reschedule the competition in April, in line with the quincentennial celebration of Christianity in the country. Of course, whether the city will hold a physical event for it would depend on the COVID-19 situation at the time.

Cebu City barangays were also warned against local fiesta celebrations this weekend.

The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño also cancelled a number of its traditional activities—including the Penitential Walk with Jesus, the Penitential Walk with Mary, and the Traslacion from Cebu City to Mandaue City to Lapu-Lapu City.

It was also announced on Monday, Jan. 10 that the physical Novena Masses of the Fiesta Señor this year are cancelled.

Instead, the novena masses will be streamed on the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Facebook page. The online novena masses started yesterday.

The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño will remain open to visitors, although at limited capacity.

However, the streamed novena masses won’t be held at the church, to prevent people from going to the Basilica.