The Cebuano culture and festivals are largely influenced by Cebu’s historical heritage, which dates back to the very start of the Spanish occupation. Most of the people living in Cebu are Roman Catholics with numerous major churches around the city. However, Chinese religions have slowly grown in number to form part of the expanding religious groups in Cebu. There are an increasing number of temples built around the region.
Cebuanos are usually laid-back with strong Hispanic conservative traditions rooted in early Filipino-Spanish culture. However, American influence has invaded the city with its music, fast food and the wide use of the English language. Koreans have formed a rather large ethnic group with communities of Americans, British, Germans, Japanese and Australians in the area. Spanish culture, American influences and indigenous Filipino traditions make up the biggest influences to majority of the Cebuano’s culture. Cebu as of today is a mixed culture, which makes it a fascinating cocktail of traditions and modernity.
Cebuanos are a fun-loving and vibrant people who love to celebrate festivals. Fiestas or festivals have become a huge part of the Filipino culture and there are dozens of Cebu celebrations that reflect the city’s particular flavor, continuing to attract tourists from all over the world.
- Sinulog Festival (3rd Sunday of January, Cebu City) – The Sinulog Festival is the city’s grandest, most flamboyant and most popular celebration among all the other festivals in the year. Tourists from all over the world gather in this week-long celebration in honor of Senor Santo Nino de Cebu. Every year, locals clad in colorful and elaborate ensembles parade along the routes of the procession. Highly similar to the Mardi Gras parade, locals encourage tourists to dance the two-steps-forward-one-step-backward rhythm while shouting ‘Viva Pit Senor’ to the vigorous beating of the drums.
- Kabayo Festival (February 26-27, Cebu City) – The Kabayo festival celebrates the graceful horses that promote sports, agro-industrial and eco-tourism awareness in the Philippines. The festival is organized by the Cebu Equine Owner, Breeder and Sportsmen Association (CEOBSA) and is supported by the Department of Tourism Region VII. The celebration includes a parade of horses, horse-racing competitions, the best decorated tartanilla (Horse-drawn carriages) coupled with bazaars and flea markets.
- Karanasa Festival (3rd Sunday of September, Danao City) – The festival is held in honor of Santo Tomas de Villanueva as they dance the four basic steps: kiay, karag, karug, and karuhay which jive with the Karanasa’s official beat. Street dances fill the roads with competitions of performers in multihued and vibrant ensembles.
- Kadaugan Sa Mactan (April 27, Lapu-lapu City) – During this time of year, Cebuanos get together and re-enact the battle of the courageous and resisting natives led by Muslim chieftain Rajah Lapu-lapu against Ferdinand Magellan and the Spaniard invaders back in 1521. It also commemorates the victory of the natives of Cebu.
- Mantawi Festival (May 7, Mandaue City) – Promoting Cebu as an industrial and tourist hub, the Mandawi festival showcases its cultural heritage and treasures with wild street dancing, colorful floats, big and tall men portraying heroes, great food, and sports events.
- Paskuhan (Whole month of December, Cebu) – Paskuhan comes from the Filipino word ‘pasko’ meaning Christmas. Pasukan is a province-wide festival of songs and lantern-making to spread the holiday cheer among locals and tourists. Some towns have food street festivals, choral singing competitions and the lighting of the main.
With the right mix of history and a city full of fun-loving people, distinct Cebu culture and festivals continue to attract tourists from all around the world to the island.