Sinulog Grand Parade kicks off in Cebu City

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19) — The streets of Cebu City turned into one big party, as the 40th year of the Sinulog Grand Parade kicked off Sunday morning.

The sunny weather mirrored the revelers' mood, who were all smiles while watching the performances in the streets and the Cebu City Sports Center

There were 31 dancing contingents in this year's Sinulog Festival, including first-time participants like Bacolod City's Maskara Festival dancers. Dancers from Borongan, Samar who joined previous Sinulogs, were back with colorful costumes and masks.

There were also 43 floats, 19 higantes, and 12 puppeteers that joined the street parade.

Some of the floats had famous celebrities onboard, like Dingdong Dantes and Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados.

The Sinulog Grand Parade is part of the festivities in honor of the Santo Niño de Cebu. Around 2.5 million devotees reportedly participated in the barefoot procession Saturday.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to be at the Cebu City Sports Center for the Grand showdown. It would be his first time to attend the Sinulog. 

Tight security measures were in place because of the President's presence. Sreet dancing was delayed for about two hours due to security preparations.

Reports also said that each dancer had to undergo a security check before entering the sports center.

Original Sinulog remembered

Before the Sinulog became a huge festival, it started as a dance prayer to ask for the the fulfillment of wishes from the image of the Child Jesus.

A distinctive drumbeat led the dance steps, which have evolved from simple to elaborate ones seen in modern festivals.

The Diola family of Barangay Mabolo in Cebu City are the keepers of the steps and the drumbeat.

On Saturday, city officials led by Councilor Niña Mabatid — who hails from Barangay Mabolo — organized the Sinug festival in Mabolo, highlighting the original dance steps and drumbeats.

Mabatid wants younger generations to remember and continue to be keepers the original Sinug which later evolved into the Sinulog.

Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella also pushed for the activity ahead of the 40th Sinulog Grand Parade Labella who is also from Mabolo, said he too was a Sinug dancer when he was younger.

Cebu-based stringer Dale Israel contributed to this story.