On April 7, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived and planted the cross on the shores of Cebu, claiming the territory for Spain. He presented the image of the child Jesus, the Santo Niño, as baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, wife of Rajah Humabon.
At the moment of receiving the holy image, it was said that Queen Juana danced with joy bearing this image of the child Jesus. With the other natives following her example, this moment was regarded as the first Sinulog.
This event is frequently used as basis for most Sinulog dances, dramatize the following:
1. Coming of the Spaniards and the presentation of the Santo Niño to the Queen.
2. Popular theme Sinulog Dance of Queen Juana holding the Santo Niño in her arms and
3.The Blessing of the Queen with the Sto Nino for her people who are often afflicted by sickness caused by demons and other evil spirits.
When the village was burned, in one of the huts of the burning village, one of López de Legazpi’s soldiers named Juan Camus found a wooden box containing the statue of the Santo Niño lying amongst several other native idols. Historians later said that during the 44 years between the arrival of Magellan and López de Legazpi, the natives of Cebu continued to dance the Sinulog but no longer to worship their anitos (god) but to show their reverence to the Santo Niño.
The word Sinulog comes from the Cebuano adverb sulog which roughly means “like water current movement;” it describes the forward-backward movement of the Sinulog dance.
The Sinulog celebration lasts for nine days, culminating on the final day with the Sinulog Grand Parade.
The Augustinian friars that accompanied López de Legazpi in his expedition proclaimed the statue performed miracles and built a church on the site where it was found.
Since 1521, devotion to the Santo Niño has grown and has taken root in Philippine popular piety, particularly in the Visayas; pilgrims from different parts of Cebu and the rest of the Philippines make their yearly journey to the church to take part in the procession and festival.
The Sto Nino is one of the 4 Major Events we celebrate in the Diocese of Orlando. The rest are: Virgin Ng Antipolo (Blessed Mother), San Lorenzo Ruiz, (First Filipino Saint to be Venerated) and the Simbang Gabi (Advent-Christmas Celebration).