Family Holidays in Cebu, Philippines for Tourists and Filipinos
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Family Holidays in Cebu, Philippines for Tourists and Filipinos

Family Holidays in Cebu City (Philippines), like during the Holy Week and the Sinulog Mardi Gras, are very popular. Cebu City offers tourists and Filipinos tourist attractions like the Basilica del Santo Nino, white sand beaches, like in Bantayan Island, and the popular lechon.

Family holidays are very popular in Cebu City, the Philippines. Filipinos are very family-centered. Their affection for the concept of family extends to the communities to which they belong. They are world-famous for their legendary hospitality—whose heart and soul is to consider strangers and visitors members of the family.

Family Holidays for Bonding and Fun

Red calendar numbers mean so much to Filipinos. Usually, they are non-working holidays, which means more time for family bonding—which always take the form of forays to the beach or public swimming pools. The dawn always signals the onset of chaos in the household, as family members pool their efforts in preparing the most nutrilicious foods (Filipinos have become health conscious, like everybody else), and the gears that maximize sea exploration and fun.

Public Holidays for the Family:

The Sinulog Mardi Gras

The most popular public holiday in Cebu City is the Sinulog Mardi Gras. In fact, it is one of, if not the most, popular public event in the Philippines that attracts more tourists than anything else in the country. The Sinulog is a dance offered to the Santo Nino (The Holy Child) de Cebu, whom many consider as Cebu City’s patron. Sinulog is also the feast of the Holy Child, which falls on the third Sunday of January.

The week-long celebration reaches its pinnacle on Saturday, when faithful from around the country and the world follow the procession circling downtown Cebu and returning “home” to the Basilica del Santo Nino where the image of the Holy Child is enshrined. Tens of thousands participate in a thanksgiving mass.

Very early the following day, Sunday, street dancing starts. Contingents from different parts of the country and the world participate in dancing contests, to the rhythm of drumbeats, footfalls and shouts, propelled by synchronization, style and choreography. They show off their colorful costumes and make-ups. The contest-celebration culminates in rock concerts all over Cebu City. Throughout the day, beer flows like water, and the smoke of roasted meat fills the air with olfactory enticements.

During the Sinulog festival, family members, especially kids, prepare very early, dressing up in black shirts, smudging their faces with all sorts of cosmetic accessories. They search for vacancies on the streets and park their vehicle there the whole day. They transform their vehicle into a makeshift spectator area from where they enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the parade.

Family Get-Together During the Holy Week

Another very popular family event in the calendar of Holidays is the Holy Week. Whole families usually troop to provincial beaches for the weekend starting Maundy Thursday. In Cebu the destination that is associated with the Holy Week is Bantayan Island. It is located at the northern tip of Cebu province. The name Bantayan Island conjures beautiful clichés like sugar-white beaches, spectacular sunrises and sunsets, games of mahjong in the shorelines, and of course lechon.

Catholics spend Holy Week for prayer, penitence, self-denial and sacrifice. Fasting from pork is strictly followed especially on Good Friday. But lent in Bantayan Island is infamous for pork and beer binges. It is at least a legend about Holy Week in Bantayan Island. The image of Cebu’s famous lechon (roasted pig), especially during Holy Week, is associated with Bantayan Island. It’s commonplace for people, on Good Friday, to comment, “It’s now flooding lechon at Bantayan Island.”

Christmas and New Year for the Family

During Christmas (the 24th and 25th) and New Year (the 31st and January 1) most commercial establishments are closed. Only a Manny Pacquiao fight can rival Christmas and New Year in making the streets eerily deserted. Everybody is with their family. It is a mortal sin for a Filipino to be away from home on Christmas and New Year. Work or fun can wait. Family can’t.

Christmas and New Year are the times when the Filipino overseas worker returns home. He brings with him huge boxes (called balikbayan box) full of gifts and goodies not only for immediate family members but also for other relatives, friends, even neighbors. For what are Christmas and New Year in the Filipino consciousness without the family and other loved ones?

Celebrations during Christmas and New Year always include exchanging of gifts, family gatherings for recollections, and of course food overindulgence. There is no such thing as a health-conscious Filipino during these times of year.

The Family as the True Meaning for Celebration

Cebuano holidays celebrate of the concept of family. Not only family members are included in the celebrations. Love and acceptance are extended as well to friends, neighbors and even strangers.  There are lots of other tourist attractions in Cebu City, the Philippines, like Cebu's Historic Landmarks and Cebu's Historic Churches.

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