Survival Guide: 10 Tips for An Epic Sinulog Experience

Are you ready for the 2019 Sinulog Festival? Here are my tips to prepare you for the grandest celebration in Cebu.

Cebu is one of the most known city in the Philippines. Although it is generally laid back, the city transforms from quiet to crazy every third weekend of January. The Queen City of the South becomes remarkably vibrant celebrating the arrival Child Jesus locally called as Señor Santo Niño in the shores of Cebu. It is a commemoration of start of Christianity in the country. Despite the religious nature of the celebration, it includes various higlights such as Miss Cebu, Festival Queen Competition, Sinulog Idol, Photo and Film Competition, Fluvial and Solemn Procession, Grand Parade and Street Dancing and Grand Finale Fireworks display, you are sure to find something to suit your taste.

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Photo by Roland Pascua

Sinulog Festival is the grandest festival in the Philippines bringing in about 1 million visitors. As the weekend draws near, here are some tips to prepare you for the mother of all celebrations.

1. Plan your events well.

Here is a map of the Solemn Procession

If you are more on religious events and plan on going to the Basilica to see the image of the Child Jesus, make sure to be there as early as 5 a.m. because the queue is really long.

Check out the list of activities!

Map for Sinulog 2019 Festival Grand Parade Route Map

If you are more for dancing and parties, here are just some of the parties happening over the weekend.

2. Bring Cash.

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Avoid long queues to the ATM or worse running out of money when you need drink. Make sure you have enough cash on hand. It would be wise to keep them in different places, some could be hidden inside your bra (my mother’s advice). If you want to make the most out of your dollars, I recommend you head to Alco Credit and Foreign Exchange, Inc. they offer the best rates within the city, you can find them at Raintree Mall.

3. Prepare you Sinulog OOTD

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You can buy cheap Sinulog shirts that you can cut and redesign. Opt for cotton and avoid wearing clothes with thick material. I discourage you from wearing jean pants, it can get heavy once it gets wet. You have endless options for accessories from feather to wooden beads. It is a great time to get your henna tattoo, you can easily find an artist along the street.The weather can get really hot and humid so do not be afraid to bare more skin. Unless you plan to go to the Basilica then you have to be covered. Do not wear expensive jewelries too unless you want to make friends with robbers. Also make sure that the bag you bring is always close to your body and waterproof.

4. Practice the Sinulog dance steps.

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Photo by Victor Kintanar

It would not be an authentic Sinulog celebration if you do not learn the steps. It is not that complicated, it is close to the basic one two step. All you have to do is move one foot forward and take two steps backward.

5. Think of Sinulog as a Marathon.

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I am not saying you have to wear your running shoes but it would be a good idea to wear your most comfortable footwear since the main streets in Cebu are closed specially on Sunday since parade starts as early as 6:00 a.m. People are forced to be more fit and you will not notice that you have been walking for hours because of the loud music, smiling dancers and happy people you meet in the road.

6. Embrace Extraversion.

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Photo by Erick John Cuevas

If you have problems with personal space, then you should forget about it for this weekend. Cebuanos are extra friendly during the festivities. You will get hugs, greetings and drinks from random strangers on the road. You will be a dot in a sea of humans. The massive crowd walking with you will test you on this too.

7. Bring Your Squad.

Any celebration would not be fun if you do it alone. Bring your awesome friends except for the one who always complains which I call as Negatron (no one wants a kill joy).

If you are a solo traveler, do not hesitate to talk to people, there l always be some group ready to adopt you. If you are a member of Couchsurfing like me, search for Sinulog events in the website.

Also remember that signals will be down on the following days so make sure to plan where to meet ahead.

Here is the schedule:

8. Must Haves for Sunday’s Grand Parade

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Celebrating Sinulog is like hitting the beach for summer. You must bring the following essentials: Water or any form of portable liquid for hydration, sunscreen, favorite pair of sunnies, fan to keep cool , small snacks for energy, camera for endless selfies/groufies, powerbank and extra shirt!

9. Eat. Party. Sleep. Repeat

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When I celebrated Sinulog 2018, I hanged out with a bunch of crazy guys so I ended up partying from Wednesday until Sunday. Make sure you get rest and nourishment in between. While you want to maximize your partying or events, make sure you will be okay on Monday and not in a hospital. There was a year when I missed out on the partying because I did not have enough sleep, my body gave in on Sunday. Also, remember to drink in moderation. It is easy to get carried away but you have to be responsible enough or at least be with a responsible friend. The past Sinulog parties have caused a major uproar from the conservative people as photos of teenagers sleeping unconscious along the streets went viral in social media sites. You do not want to leave traces of your partying in someone else’s Facebook account.

10. Be Ready For Everything and Anything.

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Photo by Restie Derigay

Make sure to agree on a meeting place with your friends. During the festival, the mobile networks normally suffer lags and some messages arrive hours later. While the weather reports say the weather will be fair, make sure that you are ready to embrace the rain as well as random showers of water, beer, alcohol and even paint. These tips should give you an idea on what to expect but nothing can be completely planned in life. Do not let this unpredictability stop you, this will make your Sinulog experience more memorable.

With all that said and done, I wish you the best for Sinulog 2019! May the force be with you as you brave the streets of Cebu! Prititit!!! Pit Señor!

Reginald James Lorico
Photo by: Reginald James Lorico
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Speak Visayan: Greetings, Pronouns and Questions

When travelling to the Philippines, it pays to learn a bit of the local language despite the fact that most Filipinos can easily speak English. Visayan is one of the most spoken language in the Philippines being used both in Visayas and many parts of Mindanao.

Speak Visayan

Learning Visayan is not as easy, I have had several expat friends who already lived in Cebu for year but never got to speaking the language. Why you may ask? Unlike other Southeast Asian countries, most locals prefer to speak to foreign travelers in English as an effect of years being colonies of foreign countries. If you know a bit of Spanish then you already know a bit of Visayan because some of them have been mixed into the dialects along with some Malay and Chinese words.  I am writing this post to share our dialect and spread awareness, here are some words and phrases that you can use:

Greetings

  • good morning – maayong buntag
  • good noon – maayong udto
  • good afternoon – maayong hapon
  • good night – maayong gabii
  • goodbye – babye
  • thank you – salamat
  • thank you very much – Daghang Salamat
  • please – palihog
  • you’re welcome – walay sapayan
  • yes/no – o/di
  • yes/no (polite) – oo / dili
  • OK – sige
  • just a minute – kadali lang
  • only, merely, simply – lang
  • again, similarly – na pud
  • no problem – walay problema
  • how are you? – kamusta (na) ka?
  • how are you? (plural) – kamusta (na) kamo?
  • where have you been? – Asa ka gikan?
  • where are you going? – Asa ka paingon?
  • I’m coming from Mactan. – Gikan ko sa Mactan.
  • I’m going to Moalboal. – Adto ko sa Moalboal.
  • Good – Maayo
  • Good, thank you and you? – Maayo man, salamat, ug ikaw?
  • Also good – Maayo sab/pud
  • And – Ug

Pronouns

  • I – ako
  • You – ikaw
  • he, she – siya
  • they – sila
  • we (I and you) – kita
  • us ( I and others) – kami
  • you (plural) – kamo
  • this – kini
  • that – kana/kadto(farther)

Questions

  • who (singular) – kinsa
  • who (plural) – kinsa-kinsa
  • how – unsa’on
  • how many – pila kabuok
  • how much – tagpila
  • what – unsa
  • what did you say? – unsa to?
  • when – kanus-a
  • where – asa
  • why – ngano/ng
  • where is the port? – asa ang pier?
  • what is this/that? – unsa ni/na?
  • when is it ready? – kanus-a mahuman/matapos?
  • how far is it? – unsa kalayo (layo)?
  • who is this/that? – kinsa ni/na?
  • what is your name? – unsa may ngalan nimo/mo?
  • how old are you? – pila na may imong edad?
  • where do you come from? – asa ka gikan/ taga diing lugar ka?
  • which bus for the city? – unsang bus ang moadto sa siudad?
  • where is the bus stop? – asa ang hunungan/hulatanan ug bus?
  • where do I catch the jeepney? – asa ko musakay ug jeepney?
  • where does this bus go? – asa paingon/moadto kining bus?
  • where do i get off? – asa ko manaog?
  • how much is the fare? – pila ang plete?
  • what time is it? – unsang orasa na?
  • how much is this/that? – tagpila ni/na?
  • do you have air-con? – nabay air-con?
  • how much is a room? – pila ang usa ka kwarto?

Now you have learned a couple of basic Visayan words and phrases, do use them if you want to win over the hearts of the locals. Up next will be adjectives, numbers, commands and some conversational phrases!

 

My Wardrobe Checklist for 5 Months of Backpacking

Planning to go on a month-long trip? Here is my wardrobe checklist for 5 months of backpacking!

I always worry about my luggage when traveling. My obsessive-compulsive side always want to make sure I do not bring too much and most of the time, I barely reach half of my luggage limit.

“The old school of thought would have you believe that you'd be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn't what being in nature is all about. Rather, it's about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.” ― Ryel Kestenbaum, The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail
“The old school of thought would have you believe that you’d be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn’t what being in nature is all about. Rather, it’s about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.”
― Ryel Kestenbaum, The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail

I am lucky to be gifted with the talent of travelling light. When I went for Malaysia for Ms. SCUBA International 2013, I managed to fit in 25 kilograms two pairs of heels, national costume and with all my dive gears.

The problem most ladies face when doing long-term travel is trying to fit everything into a small luggage. I can recall the sight of my Bb. Pilipinas 2013  co-candidates during our three-day stay in Shangri-La. I felt that I barely brought stuff since I only carried a medium-sized duffel bag while the rest brought ones as huge as dive equipment bags (TBH I will never know what was inside those bags).

Back in 2015, I went to Tacloban and packed for a month of volunteer work which turned out to be longer. It became a 5 month-long wardrobe in a 50 L backpack?

How did I survive?

Here is my list:

TOPS

You can try to have 2 of these in bright colours to add more life to your usual neutrals.
If you are doing PR work, best to have some dressy tops.

4 Tank Tops

4 Shirts – 2 short-sleeved and 2 long-sleeved

Choose ones made from light materials.

1 Windbreaker

Jeans can be heavy though.
You can mix both to create a juxtaposition of sophisticated and casual.

3 Pair of shorts

2 Long Pants/Trousers

1 Pair of Leggings

A-line is safest.

1 Long Skirt

3 Brassieres

You can also choose to bring Nubra (silicone adhesive bras), they are easy to wash and wear.
Basic Undies

4 Pairs of Underwear

1 Sarong/ Cover-up (30 Ways to Use Your Sarong)

Less space consumed by microfiber towels compared to standard cotton ones.

1Towel (Microfiber is best)

1 Pair of Sneakers or Rubber Shoes (Hiking shoes are not as good-looking but they do their job well)

1 Pair of Flip-Flop

1 Pair of Ballerina Flats (For sophisticated moments.)

These are my basics and you can choose to add clothing items depending on where you will be doing volunteer work. If you are backpacking in the Philippines, I suggest you bring ones made of cotton because the humidity will make you sweat like a pig and a pair of joggers and long sleeve shirt will help fend off mosquitoes at night.

Having a hard time deciding which to take? Let George Clooney inspire you or check out this Pinterest Board.

5 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Travelers

5 Apps Every Traveler should have in their mobile. Plus giving away free app download worth US$4.99!

Here you are ready to go on a long travel, maps all rolled up, your travel books piled up in your backpack but wait, these are no longer considered efficient in 2016 although they might be useful in situations where you do not have electricity readily available but this rarely happen.

So unless you are travelling without any mobile gadgets, you should arm yourself with whatever technology can offer for convenience and easy travel.

As a regular weekend wanderer, I never leave my home without these apps.

1. Evernote

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As a constant web surfer who easily gets distracted and barely remembers thing, this app is a lifesaver. If you are like me who sometimes have goldfish memory, you should have this. Not only is this useful for keeping thoughts, photos, business cards and reminders, Evernote can easily save webpages with one mouse click.

Before I travel to a place, I usually Google it and find relevant articles. Here’s one of my notebook about Southeast Asia. Once I find it, I save them to a notebook in my Evernote and make them available offline that way, you can easily recall tips and prices even without internet.

Another added feature is that you can do work chat and share notebooks with people, planning trips with friends has never been this easy. You can download it here.

2. Maps.me

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While I know most people use Google maps, I found this application more updated. It saved me during several trips in lesser known areas like in Siquijor. You can download maps for different countries and you can bookmark locations for reference. They constantly update maps so make sure to update otherwise you will not be able to use it.

Download here.

3. Monefy

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If you do not care much about sticking to budgets then you wouldn’t need this but for people like me who are money conscious, this does the job. It is simple to update and you can set it on a budget so you know how much money you can still spend. I find it so useful that I paid for the pro version!

Download here for the free app.

4. Rome2Rio

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I find it troublesome to check routes and then go to company websites to check rates for fare and accomodation when creating a budget. Thanks to Rome2Rio, I save time. Think google maps but with expense estimations for transportation. I find this useful when I do not know how to reach a destination and how much I should spend on transportation.

Download here for an IOS version.

5. GPSmyCity

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If you are into offbeat travels like me then GPSmyCity is the app for you. They over 5,000 self-guided walks in 470+ cities around the world. Awesome right? Each one of their apps contains from a few to over a dozen of self-guided walking tours for a single city, allowing visitors to explore on foot the best of the city at their own pace without the touristy cost.

Itching to download this? I have good news! GPSmyCity is offering 20 promo codes of one of their full-version city walk apps to happinas readers. Each such code allows a free download of the app, which normally costs US$4.99 at the App Store.

Here is what you have to do:

  1. Leave a comment in this article on why travel makes you happy.
  2. Submit a photo of your favorite city attraction or delicacy in the Philippines  pau.bernasor@gmail.com.

First 20 submissions will receive the download codes.