Sinulog festivities began in 1980. It was a brainchild of Mr. David Odilao Jr., who was the Regional Director of the then Ministry of Sports and Youth Development. It was a street dance parade, performed mostly by students from various schools/universities who donned colorful costumes.
It was not just a street dance parade, however. Research was done before its execution. While it was a cultural activity, the inspiration was both religious and historical. The costumes and the movement of the participants at the parade were based on historical facts from 15th century up to the time the natives were Christianized. The performers’ dance steps were taken from the dance of the natives honoring and supplicating their pagan gods; and from the dancing candle sellers at the Basilica del Santo Niño. Later, the dance, characterized by two steps forward, one step backward in sync with the beat of drums, became known as the Sinulog dance. It is actually a dance ritual in honor of the Santo Niño (Little Child) image.
The Sinulog project of Mr. Odilao Jr was such a huge success that the Cebu City government decided to adopt it. Thus, Mr. Odilao turned the project over to Mr. Florentino S. Solon who was the Mayor at that time. Henceforth, an organizing committee set by the Cebu City government took over the preparations, from conceptualization of the program, contests, the parade, logistics, etc. through the actual execution of the entire program. Thus, the Sinulog became a huge festivity which drew the interest of local residents and tourists alike.
Over the years, Sinulog became more elaborate and bigger in scope. Whereas the first Sinulog were participated in by students and faculty from big schools/universities in Cebu, the affair begun to attract groups from other provinces as well. In recent years, movie and TV actors and artists have graced the parade, mostly aboard artistic and grandiose floats.
The parade takes a circuitous route going to San Agustin Church or what is now known as the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. The route of the parade is drawn by the organizing committee. This is then disseminated to the public for guidance. Revellers would position themselves in places where they could watch the proceedings. It is common to see many people lined up on the streets. Sinulog is a yearly event held every third Sunday of January.
Sinulog has always been part of the tradition and life of the Cebuanos although on a much simpler manner in its earlier observation. At present, it is one of the most anticipated, popular and well-attended fiesta in the Philippines. Sinulog also placed Cebu (both City and Province) prominently in the tourism map.