“Culture is what sets man apart from the rest of Kingdom Animalia and that the best expression of culture is thru the dance.” – Ceasar Nimor
The famous festival dance was given attention in another Casa Gorordo Museum Talk on the 16th of January. The lecture focused on the origin of the Sinug and Sinulog dance forms.
Sinu’og or Sinu’g is an ancient Cebuano ritual, a survivor of indigenous dance ritual despite three hundred years of Spanish domination. It was mentioned in the CGM Talk that the acceptance of Christianity is not the only factor of where the dance form came from because even before that the natives already practiced the certain rituals for their gods and goddesses of nature. In fact, the natives did not even know that they were accepting a new religion. They considered Sto. Nino as one of their pagan gods.
One of the speakers was Ceasar F. Nimor, he’s a retired Assistant Professor handling Biological and Earth Sciences, Research, Health and Kinetics at the College of Teacher Education and subjects at the Graduate School Department and Senior High School Arts and Design Track at the University of Cebu-Main. He is a Zoologist with a Master’s Degree in Teaching – Science (MAT-S) from Southwestern University.
He has been a folk dancer since grade school to college and over thirty years of ethnographic research in various hinterlands of the Visayas and Mindanao from which he documented traditional dances that had been performed and taught at the Annual Folk Dance Workshop for Teachers of the Philippine Folk Dance Society (PFDS). He has also been able to learn and gather traditional dances and folklore of the other nine Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member nations during his annual self-funded trips.
Another one was Mila Catelo-Janson who comes from Surigao del Norte is a retired Physical Education and Graduate School professor of the Cebu Normal University. Aside from teaching then, until today, she has the interest in going on field in search of unpublished folk dances.
She was the choreographer of the Cebu Normal University Dance Troupe until her retirement.
She is presently a member of the Board of Directors of the Samahang Tagapagtaguyod ng mga Katutubong Sayaw ng Pilipinas (Philippine Folk Dance Society) – National Chapter and Adviser of the Cebu Colleges and Universities Choreographers Association (CCUCA).
Madame Mila believes that “The more we learn about our cultural heritage, the more powerful our reasons for cooperating with and respecting each other as one people.” This is the reason why searching for endangered traditions and sharing these to everyone inspire her to conduct research.
What people have been taught about the history of Sinulog is commonly when the Ferdinand Magellan arrived and presented the image of Sto. Nino to Rajah Humabon. After that, him along with the other natives were baptized to the Roman Catholic Church. Hara Humamay (Amihan and later named Queen Juana), danced with the image and the other tribe members followed. This was considered the first Sinulog.
Tha dance steps are known to be from Humabon’s adviser, Baladhay, where he saw a little child dancing when he was sick. The child tried to tickle him with coconut leaf. This is why the dance is sometimes called Sayaw ni Baladhay– where the steps are like movements of the river or more commonly the forward, one-step backward dance step.
And from that stories, it resulted to different versions of the Sinulog like Votive Sinug and the Combative Sinug.
Votive Sinug is actually the dance for prayer– the one we see in Sto. Niño Basillica Minore, where the dancers carry candles and say a prayer. While the Combative Sinug is more of a story of the battle and the acceptance of Christianity. This is usually performed by the Turang Dance Troupe.
What we see during festivals are the combination of the two dance forms– always evolving and adapting from the costumes and the mix of contemporary elements.
The Uncommon Traditions that Mexicans and Filipinos share when celebrating the Day of the Dead.
Dia de los Muertos
By Allain Dumon Fonte
The 2nd of November is All Soul’s Day, a holiday that is very important to many Filipinos to remember our loved ones who passed on. This is also widely celebrated in Mexico as “Dia De los Muertos” or in English, “The Day of the Dead”. And Mexicans celebrate the 2nd of November grander than they celebrate Christmas. Well, you can witness it from the Disney movie, “Coco”.
As All Soul’s Day or Dia de los Muertos is about to end, here are some interesting traditions and superstitions that Filipinos and Mexicans share:
1. IT IS NOT ON THE 31st OF OCTOBER
Dia de los Muertos or All Soul’s Day is not practiced on October 31st or on the Hallow’s Eve as many other western cultures practice; but we celebrate it on the 2nd of November. We celebrate November 1st as All Saint’s Day or the Day of the Holy, while in Mexico they call it Dia de los Innocentes or Dia de los Angelitos to commemorate the children who died too early in life.
2. THE RITUAL
Both in Mexico and in the Philippines, we visit the grave of our loved ones and we clean it well. This is a ritual to honour their resting places and to let them know that they are never forgotten.
3. FLOWERS INVITE SPIRITS
In Mexico, they believe that the scent of flowers attract spirits. So the flower offerings are invitation to their dead loved ones to visit the living families. While in the Philippines, we believe that flowers offered to the dead exalt the souls and somehow fill in the sadness that we feel when missing our dead loved ones.
Most of the time, Filipinos choose all-white flowers to offer because white is the absence of colour, which means the absence of Joy and happiness. White also symbolises purity of soul which we hope our dead loved ones will attain as they journey to heaven. While in Mexico, they have the yellow Mexican marigolds as the official flowers of the dead that will guide them in their journey to the afterlife.
4. THE LEGEND OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLIES
Both cultures believe that monarch butterflies are dead loved ones who visit us and show their appreciation that we have not forgotten them. A presence of monarch butterflies also means that our dead loved ones are always there guiding us and looking after us.
5. A PICNIC IN THE GRAVEYARD
Spending a night at the graveyard and picnicking with the rest of the family may sound very creepy to many; but to both Filipino and Mexican cultures, picnicking and spending a night at the cemetery is a must to show our love to our dearly departed. It is the only time in the year that families gather and tell stories of the dead loved ones and how colourful or how great their lives were.
6. FOOD FOR THE DEAD
In Mexico, they have what they call “ofrendas” or an altar where the pictures of their dead loved ones are displayed and offered with flowers, candles, and their favourite food. Very similar to the Filipino culture of cooking the favourite food of our dead loved ones and everyone in the family enjoys the food for dinner.
My family tradition involves me driving all the way to Colon street and buy that famous Snow Sheen’s “pancit canton”. This is my granddad’s favourite snack. Sadly, the old Visayan Restaurant is no longer there. My late uncle and my late grandpa love their sweet ad and sour fish. We also set up an “ofrenda” on their graveyard and eat their favourite food while picnicking in the cemetery. We do not spend a night in the cemetery; but while we are picnicking there, we usually play the songs of Pilita Corrales and Susan Fuentes that my late grandpa used to listen every afternoon while enjoying his coffee, pan de sal, and pancit canton.
What about your family traditions? Share your thoughts by commenting to this article.
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PANDEMIC DIARIES: Twelve Months Later
Photos taken by Pablo Quiza around Cebu City during the months of March, April and May 202
AS WE APPROACH ONE YEAR under pandemic times, we look back at March 2020 with fascination. And awe. We had 12 months of lockdown and survived the so called new normal. We lived with masks and alcohol even today. Carless roads and dark malls. Those were the early days of March, April and May.
It stretched to October and past Christmas. No Sinulog. Virtual parties on Zoom and virtual mass on You Tube and FB Live. We debated on the best meds to take if we get sick and whether to wear masks (please do!). We scampered for face shields and anti-viral sprays. Vitamins C and D and zinc. Later, we survived being swabbed and we learned the difference between a PCR and an anti-gene test. The latter cost less.
We dreaded the declarations of IATF mandated from Manila. And we got mad at the police chief who had a birthday party while his people were busy locking up everyone violating the lockdown. Most horrifying of all, we needed to produce IDs! Are you a resident of Barangay Lahug or Banilad? Are you employed and why are you still working? Everyone suffered thru endless checkpoints. Most sad of all are those using motorbikes, they seem to get the raw end of the deal since those with cars are not as scrutinized. We managed to trick the system by putting a big handwritten note in front of the car: COMPANY CAR, and zipped tru the police desks in the middle of the road. Don’t even think of travelling, by plane, boat or bus. The collection of the required documents is enough for one to get exposed to Covid.
We learned to shop online, order groceries and necessities thru delivery. We slowly moved towards cashless payments. Gcash and banks like Union Bank and China Bank with friendly apps are heroes for making life easy for most of us to spend what little cash we have to spend on Lazada or pay the VECO bill. Oh and we binged on K dramas on Netflix and You Tube, kamsaminada.
As 2021 enters, there are some good news. For those obsessed with news, you already know that 7,000 vaccines arrived last March 2 in Cebu, with more expected in the next few weeks. The death rate is not as high among those who caught this pesky virus, which tells us that doctors in the hospitals have some proven expertise in dealing with Covid. More cures should be in the horizon.
Meanwhile, lets continue dreaming of the day when we can cross borders again, even if its just Bohol or Boracay, Bangkok or Hong Kong. Ready those luggages and bags bought during the 3/3 sale in Shopee in preparation for the day when we can take the ferry or the plane for new adventures.