Welcome to the biggest party of the year: Sinulog. The epitome of Filipino fiestas, it’s the most vibrant way to pay homage to the Sto. Niño, the patron saint of the province. Since 1980, people from all over the country have been gathering in the streets of Cebu City to witness the festival’s songs, dances, and colorful costumes and floats.
And in great hordes do they come. The 2018 Sinulog Grand Show alone drew two million people, filling up streets, hotels, and resorts.
Amid the merrymaking, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd and lose track of the valuables you carry. The shoulder-to-shoulder situation offers a prime opportunity for pickpockets, swindlers, and offenders. Those who aren’t careful might leave the island with unpleasant memories of the Mother of Philippine Festivals.
Be a smart reveler. As you pack your bags for Cebu, keep these safety precautions in mind to make the most of your time at Sinulog.
What Type of Bag to Use, What to Leave Behind
Since you’ll be out and about, a huge, bulky bag isn’t a good choice because it invites unwanted attention. A small bag that fits all your essentials (wallet, hotel keys, and water bottle) should suffice. In fact, the provincial government discourages visitors from carrying backpacks. Most hotels and condos for sale in Mactan, Cebu, Philippines are equipped with stringent security features, anyway, so you can leave your valuables at the accommodation.
Keep your outfit light and simple. Leave the sparkly jewels and non-essential gadgetry in your hotel safe and dress down. Only bring enough cash — just a few coins and enough paper bills — to last you the entire day.
Expect random security checks, so leave the following behind, too:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Bladed weapons
- Flammable or combustible substances
- Firearms and explosives
Precautions before Leaving Your Hotel
Stay on alert the moment you leave your accommodations. The best precaution is to walk with a companion. If you want to brave the city on your own, make sure to tell someone where you’re going. Lock all the doors, windows, gates, and any other entry point as you leave.
The same goes for the vehicle you’re leaving. Make sure all windows and doors are locked and take your valuables with you.
Additionally, keep the fact that there isn’t anyone currently in your room out of your social media feed. Offenders have sophisticated means of choosing targets, so refrain from divulging too much information about your whereabouts online.
Safety in Public Transportation
If you don’t have a car, and your destination is too far to walk, you’ll have to commute. Many roads are closed during the entire festival, but other parts of the city are navigable via taxis and jeepneys. We can’t promise that Cebu’s public transportation is more convenient than Manila’s, or that traffic in Cebu isn’t just as frustrating as that of the capital, though. The smart thing would be to plan and head off when there’s less traffic.
To keep yourself safe, memorize the plate number of the taxi you’re riding or send them to a friend. Be watchful of the person sitting beside you in the jeepney, too.
Traveling with Kids
When you’re celebrating Sinulog with kids, you have to take stronger security measures.
- Give your children instructions in case they get lost. Streets are crowded, and they could easily get separated from the group. Tell them to approach a police officer or head to a location they’re familiar with, where you can meet up.
- Provide identification. Let your kid carry a DIY ID or a sticker with contact details (“if lost, call xx-xxx-xx”). If there’s nothing in your home you can use to create an ID, write your contact number on your kid’s arm with a marker.
- Bring adequate protection from the sun to avoid heatstroke. Even though Sinulog is held in January, the weather can be hot and humid. So, prepare protective gear like umbrellas, caps, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Dealing with Suspicious People, Luggage, and Vehicles
Sinulog officials employ strict security measures against those who want to take advantage of the influx of tourists in the area. Thanks to the diligence of the government and police force, there’s a very low possibility of terrorist attacks or bombings. And, on the slim chance an alert goes up, authorities are ready to act. During the last Sinulog, for instance, the Cebu City Police Office prepared a contingency plan for at least five crises, including shooting, stampede, and bombing.
Still, it pays to be wary of suspicious individuals or items:
- Luggage – If you see abandoned luggage, don’t touch or approach it. Take pictures and show them to the nearest authorities. Don’t post them on social media.
- Person – Don’t confront a suspicious-looking individual. Report him or her to the nearest police station.
- Vehicles – Be wary of abandoned vehicles or those that have been parked for some time. You should also be wary of vehicles containing unusual parcels.
In Case the Worst Happens
While you can arm yourself with the strongest precautions, some circumstances are simply out of your control. Like Cebuano authorities, it pays to be prepared for the worst.
- Earthquakes – If you are outdoors, find a wide, open area. Stay away from buildings, power lines, and trees. If you’re indoors, stay away from windows and crouch under a sturdy table.
- Bombing or Explosion – Stay calm and use only stairwells. Stay away from windows and other hanging objects. Find a secure location and stay there.
Keep in mind, however, that these are far-fetched circumstances. Sinulog has always been a secure event, so rest assured that you’re safe.
Armed with knowledge, protective gear, and safety measures, you’re ready to celebrate! Walk the streets of Cebu confidently and experience the province’s exquisite cuisine. Snap photos of your favorite moments, shop for keepsakes, and join the Cebuanos in this beautiful homage to the child Jesus.
Need more info on getting around Cebu? Get in touch with our team!