Sinanggiyaw Festival


Sinanggiyaw Festival is a fun celebration in Dumanjug, Cebu, Philippines being held every 4th of October in honor of its patron saint St. Francis Of Assisi.

 The festival basically features a festive mood showcasing the fertility of its land and abundance of the town’s farm products. Certainly, since the area is becoming more of an urban than rural, the aim is to promote the place for more visitors to come, see and tell the world about what it can offer and other resources they have for travelers to avail of. The word ‘sinanggiyaw’ comes from the two Cebuano words: sinanggi (the harvested crops or the way/method of harvesting the crops) and ‘-yaw’ the last syllable for ‘sayaw’ for ‘to dance’.

 In short the two terms can be translated as “to dance like the harvesting way”. The street dancing competition can literally show you the harvest method through their dance steps and choreography. Not only the harvesting methods, but the steps and choreography basically follow the three seasons or in farming: planting, harvesting and thanksgiving.  For this last aspect, the original settlers celebrate thanksgiving to nature and creator for the abundance of nature. With the coming of Christianity, this thanksgiving celebration or ritual is being transformed into the religious aspects of Christian celebration.

Just like in most ‘fiestas’ around the country, this festival is celebrated to coincide with the town’s patron saint’s religious feast day – St Francis of Assisi. This festival is believed to have been celebrated without fail annually since in 1855. It means that it is one of the oldest celebrations in the province and one that is being modeled by other towns in the province.

Most probably, the festival is more of a religious thanksgiving and celebration back then and not so elaborate if compared nowadays. However, the religious tone of thanking (God) for the abundance and harvest remain to be the fundamental theme of the celebration.  Certainly, the poblacion is the center where the governmental functions and the church are centrally located. As Dumanjug Town celebrates the festival, it is their church is considered both their landmark and center of the events.

Sinanggiyaw Festival is quite interesting and entertaining to watch. It is not only meant to attract more visitors from everywhere but also to showcase local culture, costumes and traditions in general.  However, basically, the festival is consists of choreographed street dancing, showdown (usually a ritualistic sort of group dancing presentation in a huge hall – could be a stadium or other open space in town), beauty queen contest and other interesting games wherein groups or individuals can win a prize.

Just in case you don’t know, the street dancing presentations are performed by mostly young competitors from elementary to high schools. They take time and energy to master their routine and deliver their best talents during the competition.  The dancers wear very colorful and elaborate costumes and use props to enhance better their vibrancy and charm. Every group contingent is being led by a queen dancer who usually leads the group and perform dance steps quite a bit different from her group members.  As aforementioned, the theme of the performances revolves around the three aspects of farming: planting, harvesting and thanksgiving.

Sinanggiyaw Festival does not only aim to promote the town’s resources and abundance but also to help the younger generation to become more aware about the good things that come from their land as a resource.  In addition, the festival aims to awaken the locals’ mind to be aware of the environment’s need for protection from any pollution and to take care of nature and environment.  To promote the sense of communitarian and familial unity, the festival also aims to make the locals become aware of their communitarian roles. Through the festival, the local community will recognize their functions and roles and what they can offer to their community.

They are encourage to participate in various aspects and events not only during the festival but primarily during the preparation period which takes so much planning, thinking and energy not only among organizers but also supporters and workers.  In addition to the communitarian aspect, the festival also offers families chance to participate in the events and its preparations. Usually, the events does not only include one member of the family but the whole of them.

As much as you can enjoy the vibrant and frenzy dance performances and other fun competitions during the day, you will also enjoy exploring and searching (or eating and tasting) the products being displayed. You will see booths being set up by the road or street areas that display farm products and other products locally produce. You will find such products more environmentally-friendly and healthy since they are mostly organic products. Some agricultural products you will see include: bananas, camotes (sweet potatoes), corn, rice, coconuts, and vegetables among others.