Fiesta Señor 2023: A Walk of Faith in the New Normal

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Viva Pit Señor! Viva! Viva!

It is uplifting to know that after a series of lockdowns and restrictions due to Covid-19, Cebuanos and other devotees can experience again the grandest annual religious and cultural festival in Cebu. The confirmation of the Basilica Minore Del Santo Niño de Cebu of the return of all fiesta activities on January 2023 implies that we are back on track.

The 458th Fiesta Señor Celebration on January 5-15 & 20, 2023 has a theme: Sto. Niño: Our Source of Peace in the Walk of Faith.

But before we lay down the schedule of activities for this most anticipated celebration, let us go through history.

About the Celebration

The Sinulog is a reflection of the devotion and the undying faith of the Cebuanos to the Señor Sto. Niño; and this devotion has been passed on from generation to generation. This resulted to its annual festivity every third Sunday of January. Despite its long years of celebration, many devotees are still confused of its origin.


It was said that it all started when Ferdinand Magellan—a Portugese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition–, along with his soldiers, first introduced Christianity to the Rajah Humabon of Cebu, in 1521. Soon after, Rajah Humabon was then baptized and officially converted as a Christian, together with other 800 people until Christianity was successfully accepted by most Cebuanos. The Fiesta Celebration offers the devotees both Religious and Cultural Activities. One of the highlights is the Sinulog Festival—thought to be the most well-known festivals in the Philippines. Aside from the religious part of the celebration, Sinulog is also known for its street parties before the day of the celebration and during the day of the festival.

Sinulog: How it Started

Sinulog is held in celebration of one the country’s most famous historic relic: the Sto Niño de Cebu. This was the statue of the baby Jesus that was handed to the rajah Humabon by Ferdinand Magellan. This was one of the most important events in the religious history of the Philippines as it paved way to the birth of Christianity in the country. At the moment of receiving the holy image, it was said that Queen Juana, the main consort of Rajah Humabon, danced with joy holding the image of the child Jesus.

The other natives followed her example, and this event was regarded as the first Sinulog dance. The same event was used as basis for most Sinulog dances.

The Sinulog dance steps are also believed to originate from Baladhay, Rajah Humabon’s adviser. When Baladhay got sick, Humabon ordered his tribe to bring Baladhay into the room where the Sto. Niño was enthroned. After few days, Baladhay was heard shouting and was found dancing. Baladhay explained that the child Jesus was tickling him. In turn, he danced with the little child and explained that he was dancing the movements of the river. To this day, the two-steps forward, one-step backward movement is still used by Sto. Niño devotees who believe that it was the Santo Niño’s choice to have Baladhay dance.

Sinulog comes from the Cebuano word “sulog” which means “like water current movement” which depicts the forward-backward steps of the Sinulog dance.

With this little background of the history of the festivities, it is exciting to know that devotees can enjoy the vibrant, religious and fun-filled celebration.
Below is the schedule of activities for the 458th Fiesta Señor celebration.

Sayri Niño Fiesta Señor 2023 Schedule of Activities from the official page of Basilica Minore del Sto Nino.

Almost 2 months before the big celebration, let us prepare ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as we embrace the walk of faith in the new normal. Kita-kits, mga Bai!