Sinulog Festival raises funds for Taal Volcano victims

The 20th annual Sinulog Festival was celebrated by the Filipino community at Sintra Square yesterday, and this time it was celebrated with a cause.

This year’s celebration was more meaningful, as the community gathered to raise funds for the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption that occurred on the island of Luzon at the start of last week.

Organized by the Santo Niño de Cebu in Macau Association, the annual religious procession will donate 55% of the proceeds from its raffle ticket sales to the cause. A donation box was also passed around during the event.

Six contingents wearing vibrant costumes and performing a series of the festival’s traditional dances marched through Sai Van Lake bearing the image of St. Niño to honor the Infant Jesus.

Yesterday’s event gathered around 1,000 spectators. According to the association president, Violeta Duran, the increase in audience numbers was due to people wishing to show solidarity and remember victims of the Taal Volcano, and the increasing number of devotees.

“The spectators used to attend only for the sake of recreation and to remember our culture and traditions back in the Philippines,” said Duran.

“But lately, there has been an increase in the devotees of St. Niño. [We are also here] to help other people in need and show solidarity. We really have the heart to become followers of Jesus,” she added, emphasizing how the Catholic community in the SAR was continuing to grow.

There were supposed to be seven contingents joining the Sinulog dance competition, however Duran said that a group from Hong Kong had withdrawn as “the situation in Hong Kong [had] affected them.”

Meanwhile, Macau-based priest the Rev. Fr. Ryan Jun Real said that the annual religious activity in the SAR seeks to honor St. Niño as it was the first image that was given to Filipinos.

“This speaks [to] the faith of the Filipinos and its history. Every time we celebrate Sinulog, we also celebrate the faith that we received many years ago,” said the Filipino priest.

“This is our thanksgiving for the gift of faith that we received, and we express it through dancing and through the parade.”

The Sinulog Festival continuously strengthens the Catholic community’s faith and is also a time for the devotees to reevaluate their faith.

The celebration, which originated in Cebu, begins nine days before the grand parade. The parade itself can last up to 12 hours and involves a traditional Sinulog dance in which participants take two steps forward and one step back, swaying to the rhythm of the drums.

The festival customarily takes place on the third Sunday in January, where participants shout petitions and thanksgivings to the St. Niño, such as “Viva Pit Señor! Señor Santo Niño!”

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