January 13 (3rd Sunday of the month of January), we woke up early to prepare for a trip to attend a Festival in Kabankalan—the SINULOG FESTIVAL. It took us almost two hours to reach Kabankalan from Bacolod City.
While nearing Kabankalan, the road started to get busy. We also saw some bikers heading for Kabankalan.
We have to make some u-turns as soon as we arrive the City. Some road were closed as the street dancing is about to start. Finally , we’ve arrive at the new City Hall which was the starting venue also of the participating tribes. As soon as we’ve found a parking space we immediately went to the street and start taking pictures.
One of the fun thing one must learn to enjoy is the “bulinganay” tradition, where they mix coal with water or oil creating a black mixture that they rub on the faces of every individual on the streets…If you are a visitor you must be ready for this.
The danceable beat of the drums brings you up to your feet and joining the street dancing in the morning, in the afternoon it culminates to the Grand Tribal Competition at the City Public Plaza.
About Sinulog Festival
Kabankalan’s showcase in the array of festivals in Negros Occidental. Sinulog transforms the third Sunday of January of every year into a day of riotous revelry as dancers painted in black soot stamp to the wild beating of drums.
SINULOG SA KABANKALAN is a hilarious festivity held in commemoration of the triumph of the townspeople against the moro pirates through the intercession of the Sto. Nino.
During the early days, according to tradition, the Christian Filipinos, especially those living along the coastal areas, were subjected to attacks and harassment by the moro pirates. The encounters more often resulted in the bloodbath between the Christian and the pirates, bringing untold miseries and destructions, particularly to the townsfolk. It was in one of these encounters that the Sto. Nino intervened and saved the Christians from further attacks.
To manifest their gratitude, the early Filipinos celebrated the victory by holding a revelry that is the SINULOG today.
The nearby town of Ilog, the first established town in south Negros, whose influence extended beyond its jurisdiction, had not been spared from those attacks. Kabankalan, being adjacent to it, had, then, become a safe refuge, at one time or another, of the townspeople who fled the onslaught of the pirates. The fleeing people would even reach the far-flung Carol-an Valley, a mountain redoubt in Kabankalan then ruled by its legendary leader Datu Manyabog.
Old tale persistently circulating in that town told of an incident that, in the fiercest battle, that proved to be the last, the town defenders were surprised to see the pirates scarily retreating to the seashore and hastily reaching for their vintas to flee homeward.
Curious to see what it was, the townspeople saw a small child atop the church tower waving his shining sword as though driving the pirates away. As the pirates fled in haste, the townspeople indulged in revelry creating hilarious sounds on things they could hold on.
In one sense, SINULOG is an apt effort to uphold and perpetuate the tradition that has eventually been lost by the early Filipinos and venerate a patron saint who has played a significant role in the history of the country. In another sense, it recognizes the value of the migrant workers from across the sea who earlier brought in the tradition and eversince had been an indispensable partner of the sugar industry.
Initially staged in 1976 as a festival, SINULOG has grown to become one of the major festivals not only in Negros Occidental but also in Western Visayas. In 2005, SINULOG has gone global in partnership with ABS-CBN, thereby placing Kabankalan on the road map of festivals in the Philippines.
How to get there:
It is 90 kilometers away from Bacolod City and 100 kilometers from Dumaguete City and the Southern most town of Hinoba-an and can be reached by bus from both ends.