Although the longest holiday season in the world will be officially over with the Feast of the Magi on January 6, it is definitely “more fun in the Philippines” as the 2015 fiesta season immediately kicks off with community celebrations venerating the Santo Niño.
Kabankalan City, at the heart of Negros Island, holds its festival of thanksgiving with the Sinulog sa Kabankalan, on the third week of January, culminating in a grand weekend of revelry from January 16-18, 2015. It is both a cultural and religious celebration.
Started in 1976, the Sinulog sa Kabankalan has been celebrated for almost 40 years, and precedes other similar festivals in neighboring islands. As a top tourist attraction particularly among locals from neighboring areas, the Sinulog sa Kabankalan has managed to retain its authenticity and grassroots appeal. Visitors who come to share in the revelry will be able to experience the genuine community spirit of the Kabankalanons.
The 2015 Sinulog sa Kabankalan kicks off with the Tribal Headdress Competition, with the entries to be displayed at the Robinsons Mall in Bacolod City from January 4-11. This headdress competition is unique in that it requires the entries to be wearable.
The host of activities lined up for the week-long celebration have been programmed to appeal to a wide range of interests. Beauties from all over the island are vying tor the prestigious title of Negros Sinulog Queen, with the beauty pageant and coronation night scheduled on Friday, January 16.
Also on Friday, January 16, the Kabankalan night sky will light up with the Musical Pyrotechnics competition, drawing the best fireworks manufacturers from all over the country. The winning entry will have a chance to reprise its performance at the closing ceremonies on Sunday, January 18.
For the young and hip party crowd, the Music Fest is scheduled nightly from January 16-19, with well-known stars and performers expected to pump up the excitement. Renowned DJ Leandro Zayco and the Patiqueros will be the mainstays of the Music Fest, after having represented the Philippines in many international music festivals.
Those who want to experience the traditional merry-making will surely enjoy the Rio-style Mardi Gras with floats and carnival dancers leading the street dancing, scheduled on Saturday, January 17. At the Tribal Parade and Competition on Sunday, January 18, dark-skinned tribes bedecked in colorful headdresses and costumes will dance on the streets to the Sinulog beat.
For motorsports enthusiasts, a unique Sampaguita Rally will be held on Friday, January 16, with a route that will cover over 70-kilometers of Kabankalan’s barangay roads. Focusing more on precision rather than speed, the Sampaguita Rally is open to two-man teams consisting of a driver and navigator, with a roadworthy vehicle. Meanwhile performance motorsports fans will surely enjoy the Autocross and Super-Moto events to be held on Saturday, January 17.
A duathlon is also scheduled for Saturday, January 17, to cater to the running and cycling community.
The Sinulog sa Kabankalan festival has its roots in local folklore and history. The Sinulog is a tribal war dance performed by the indigenous population, and the Sinulog sa Kabankalan celebrates this cultural heritage as thousands join the pageantry of colors and the merry-making to rhythmic sounds and movements. It is also a religious festival, venerating the Señor Santo Niño, who was believed to have saved the Christian Kabankalanons from the attacking Moros during Spanish times.
Organized by the Sinulog Foundation, the festival is a community undertaking, with the support and participation of civic groups backed by the City of Kabankalan LGU.
Kabankalan City is a vibrant, first-class city with the second largest population in the province of Negros Occidental. Considered the heart of Negros Island, it is 90-km away from Bacolod City in Negros Occidental and 100-km from Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental. Travel time from both capital cities is about two hours or less. It is the center of economic activity in southern Negros, and local businesses serve the surrounding municipalities with a combined population estimated at close to 1-million. It was named the “Best Performing City” in Region VI in the 2011 Regional Search for Excellence in Local Governance (EXCEL).