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A Grand Parade in the Philippines

By Linda Tancs

Think Mardi Gras without the beads. On the third Sunday of January each year Cebu City in the Philippines (the oldest Spanish settlement in the country) brings to a close the nine-day Sinulog Festival with colorful parades and dancing to the beat of drums, trumpets and gongs. For the origins of this street party, look to the 1500s, when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted a cross at Cebu and claimed the territory for Spain. He presented an image of the baby Jesus, the Santo Niño, to the island’s rulers, resulting in a conversion to Catholicism. The annual fiesta honors Santo Niño, and Magellan’s cross made of tindalo wood is a popular attraction in Cebu today. 

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