The Sinulog is Political:
– its religious symbolism and meanings are meant to reinforce the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church as a key institution of society.
– its cultural performances and artisitic interpretations are not only displays of parts of Cebuano identity but a potent projection of soft power on a domestic and even global scale.
– the sheer size of the crowd it draws annually is a rich source of revenue for the city government, and a rich source of political capital in the sense that national leaders and politicians flock to make use of the event as a platform for preference setting especially when elections are near.
– finally, the Sinulog as the “mother” of all festivals is a show to remind the province and its neighbors of Cebu’s status as queen city of the south. Imperial Cebu is indeed a reality.
Despite all the fun you had today, remind yourself that public celebrations serve bigger purposes than the hedonism our youth crave for. The Sinulog is not simply another destination for tourism. It is not even just for blowing off steam for the masses. Rather, it is a pageantry for power, a subtle exercise of myth making and socialization for everyone who would care to join in.
Which then begs the question for those who are non-religious and non-catholics: where do we find ourselves in all of this? Certainly, the revelry of the Sinulog Sunday is open to all yet the entire affair hints a lot about its seemingly exclusive vibes. For example, tourists from other countries are welcome to dance and party but do they really fit in or know about the context of the event they are in? Indeed, it seems quite funny how the Sinulog masquerades as a strictly cultural event when its subliminal messages are clearly religious.
Are we non-religious marginalized by sinulog? That I cannot speak for others, but as far as I am concern I feel out of place despite the fact that I have partied to socialize and possibly hook-up.
In the end, sinulog is also political for although the main narrative is clearly religious and Christian Catholic, its meanings for people are in a constant state of flux. Whether you are the average youth out for a good time or an adult with devotions to a perceived deity, sinulog is what we make of it.
Again, where do we find ourselves in sinulog?