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.

Sinulog 2011
Photo by kidjoe
The Sinulog Festival is one of the biggest, most-attended, funnest (yes, that's a word) and zaniest festival 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!  

He Can't Shoot Them All
Photo Credit: 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:

Osmeña Blvd., Cor. General Maxilom Ave., & Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City
Phone: +632 253-9711
90 F. Ramos St, Cebu City
Phone: +632 253-0099

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

Of course, for cheapies like the Sole Sisters, here's a list backpacker-and-pocket friendly hostels and guesthouses:
Dorm room at Aysha-Lily
that costs only P325

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.

Sinulog 2011

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

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.
I Love Rainbows and Sunshine free creative commons
Shade by pink sherbet

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.

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

Mimicking Apocalypto
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.

Red Sparks
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.

Sinulog 2011 a
The crazy crowd @One Mango Place
Sinulog 2011 c

Sinulog 2011 b

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.

Sinulog 2011 d
'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

Sinulog 2011 e


5 Responses so far.

  1. Marky says:

    I had a blast at this year's Sinulog (my first Sinulog experience) my only REGRET was, not seeing Chichi there haha

  2. theartfularcher says:

    my favorite's got to be segment 4! what's up with those ladies wearing heels?! haha
    rain or shine, Cebu definitely knows how to party! i had fun with you that weekend Chichi (and the rest of the ladies). Hope to see you again soon!

  3. theartfularcher says:

    i meant segment 3! damn keyboard... hehe

  4. Chichi says:

    Glad you had fun in Sinulog. Next year Marky or the year after ;p

  5. Chichi says:

    Hey hey, my new fashionista friend! Had a super time with all of you as well. You're right, Cebuanos sure know how to party...rain or even harder rain.

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