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Sole Sisters' Guide to Suriving Sinulog

3,500,000

That's the estimated number of people from all over the country (and the world) who visited my hometown of Cebu City on the third Sunday of January for the annual Sinulog Festival.


Photo by kidjoe

The Sinulog Festival is one of the biggest, most-attended, funnest (yes, that's a word) and zaniest festivals in the whole country. It's a crazy mix of Sto. Niño devotees, party-goers, pilgrims and foreigners. As you might have guessed, this is one hell of a street party.

For first-time Sinulog visitors, it can be a full assault on the senses. I've been attending the Sinulog festival my whole life and I still get amazed by all the craziness during this weekend!


Photo by Storm Crypt

Here's a guide that will hopefully get you through Sinulog happy, hung-over, aching all over but largely unscathed:

1. Book your flight and hotel waaay ahead of time.

When I say way ahead, I mean 2-3 months in advance. Trust me when I say that ALL flights and hotels will be booked by January.

If you book in advance, you'd be able to score cheaper flights but more importantly, you get to stay in hotels located along the Sinulog route. You can view the mayhem from your hotel's window or balcony, if you want to but where's the fun in that eh?

Pick a hotel with an address that contains words like General Maxilom, Mango, Osmeña and Jones. Here are my picks of mid-range (P2,300-3,000 or $52-60) hotels:


Cebu Midtown Hotel
Osmeña Blvd., Cor. General Maxilom Ave., & Fuente
Osmeña, Cebu City
Phone: +632 253-9711

Diplomat Hotel
90 F. Ramos St, Cebu City
Phone: +632 253-0099

Rajah Park Hotel
Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City
Phone: +632 412-4850

Of course, for cheapies like the Sole Sisters, here's a list of backpacker-and-pocket friendly hostels and guesthouses:

Aysha-Lily's Cebu Guesthouse - P325 or $8
211 Mango Ave., Cebu
Phone: +632 233-6010
Mobile: +632 939-8297673

Roseate Pension Cebu - P698 or $15
32 V Urgello St near Jones Ave., Cebu
Phone: +632 254-0281or 254-6267
Mobile: +632 921-8502009

Kukuk's Nest - P450 or $10
124 Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu
Phone: +632 231-5180



2. Bring these Sinulog essentials
and you will thank me at the end of the festivities. You're welcome.

3. Wear chic yet comfortable clothes.

You can spot a tourist a mile away because they're decked in Sinulog apparel from head to toe. Which is fine really, if you're itching to wear the stuff you bought from Cebu Island Souvenirs shop.


A combo of the above screams TOURIST

If, however, you want to blend in, most local girls wear comfy tattered denim shorts, a Sinulog shirt or any loose top and slippers or no-fuss flat sandals. A cute lil summer dress won't hurt either. For the sole-dier boys, shorts, comfy shirt and slippers or shoes are cool.

There's a HUGE difference between Sinulog chic and Sinulog ouch. Case in point:


Uh-oh!

4. Sinulog is, after all, a fiesta. In the Philippines, a fiesta is synonymous with food. Free food.


Lechon Paella by Jun Belen

So choose your friends wisely (like my friend Gwen whose family holds a yearly Sinulog feast) and find a way to haggle invites for lunch on Sinulog Sunday. Look for friends located in Mandaue, Labangon, Guadalupe or Ramos. Load up on lechon, danggit, nukos and puso before joining the madness that is the Sinulog Mardi Gras. Believe me, you'll need it!

5. Location, location, location

Watch the street parade and strategically position yourself in the most happening places along the route of the Sinulog parade. Stay along Mango Ave or Jones Ave (which leads to Cebu City Sports Complex where the grand stand is located).


Brought to you by Google Maps

6. Find a place to cool down from the heat of the sun and the suffocating crowd.

Here are a few places that offer cold beers, cool people, even cooler beats and A/C. These are also the best places to people-watch and check out who missed tip#3 above.

Baseline Complex, Juan Osmeña St. near St. Theresa's College
- Where all the cool cats hang out (although mostly teenagers who really shouldn't be drinking in the first place)

One Mango Place, along Gen. Maxilom Ave.
- Right on the Sinulog route where you can find Mr. Coffee, Sunburst Fried Chicken and Handuraw Pizza.

Robinson's Mall, Fuente Osmeña Circle
- Uh it's a mall and malls mean only one thing...A/C.

Bryce Bar, near Century Plaza Hotel
- DJ, cool music, crazy party that starts around noon.

Photo credit: pink sherbet

7. If you can, wait for the last float of the parade. Dance to the ethnic beats along with all the other crazies.


Photo Credit: Storm Crypt

8. After the Sinulog street parade, find a spot with an open view of the sky. Sit down, relax and watch the million-peso pyrotechnic show. Best place to watch are on the Ayala Business Park grounds for their display and along Jones Ave. for the Crowne Regency fireworks.


Sinulog Fireworks by Storm Crypt

9. You think the fun is over with the last float? Think again. The real fun's just about to start when night falls. Oh, the Cebuanos just love to party and we get craziest after the Sinulog Mardi Gras. Head on over to One Mango Place, Doce, Pent, Formo or Vudu.

Dance until the sun comes up or you're dead on your feet, whichever comes first.


The crazy crowd @ One Mango Place




@ Formo

10.Wouldn't you know it, the sun's up already! What better way to end Sinulog than having breakfast at Larsian?

Larsian is to Cebu what hawker stands are to Singapore. It's authentic barbeque-d Cebuano goodness. The original Larsian is located in Fuente Osmeña circle near Chong Hua hospital. Try the spicy chorizo, tina-e (chicken intestines), chicken skin and squid. Of course, the meal won't be complete without the Cebuano staple of puso or hanging rice.


'Sa man, Larsian ta?

Now you're all set for this wild and crazy adventure/party that we call Sinulog. I'll be seeing you in next year's Sinulog!

Pit Señor
Sole Sister Chichi

Lois and Chichi are friends, cosmically aligned, unique in their own separate ways and united by the same passion for travel. Both of them, at some point in their lives, have had to jump in feet first, take risks and see where their itchy soles take them.

Read more about their travels at
Sole Sisters