The Quest to Keep Cebu’s ‘Sinug’ Tradition Alive

MCPB - Sandiego Dance Company

On December 4, 2019, the Sandiego Dance Arts Studio opened its doors to members of the local media for a short Sinulog show. I was very lucky to have been part of the small group of bloggers who got to see the show and to get first-hand insights from the multi-awarded choreographer himself, Mr. Val Sandiego.

Mr. Val Sandiego is the man behind the very famous Sandiego Dance Company. Mr. Sandiego is now part of the Cebu City Sinulog Governing Board (CCSGB) whose main goal is to revitalize the Sinulog Festival in the hopes of making it appealing not only to more visitors but also to the Cebuanos.

During the show, Mr. Sandiego explained how the Sinulog beat and choreography have evolved over the years. As someone who has been dancing the Sinulog since he was a year old, Mr. Sandiego has seen how today’s Sinulog has ‘transformed’ and deviated from the original traditional prayer dance called sinug.

As a devotee of Sr. Santo Nino himself, Mr. Sandiego feels that he has a responsibility to keep the tradition going by sharing the rich and colorful history of the festival. He said that in 2001, when their house was ravaged by fire that destroyed most of his property, one of the few items that he was able to save was his wooden image of Santo Niño which his family still keeps to this day.

As the project director focusing on the artistic and creative aspects of Sinulog 2020, Mr. Sandiego wants people to understand how and why Cebuanos dance the Sinulog. He also aims to enhance and put more religiosity to the festival by putting the spotlight on the Santo Niño and the original dance offering performed in the past.

Val Sandiego with wife Ofelia

Mr. Sandiego shared that his family was very close to the family of the late Inday Titang Diola of Mabolo who was considered the Keeper of the Sinulog beat. Mr. Sandiego promised that he would do everything in his capacity to not only keep the tradition of the sinug alive but also to make sure that the Cebuanos of today know about our very own colorful cultural heritage.

Richeleu “Richoy” Colina plays the traditional Sinug beat using a snare drum.

Watch as these kids from Inday Titang’s group dance the sinug using the original Sinulog beat.

After the performance of the kids, the members of Mr. Sandiego’s dance company performed the modern Sinulog dance that we now all know.

What do you think about the traditional Sinulog beat and steps? What do you think about the more modern Sinulog steps? Let us know about your thoughts in the comments below.

Author: leylander

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