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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Catholic Church of Resurrection hosted a large number of attendees at the Fort St. John Sinulog Festival last Sunday afternoon.

According to Filipino-Canadian Catholic Parishioner Ovvian Castrillo-Hill, this year’s Sinulog Festival was more extravagant than the years prior.

“This latest one, from what I’ve witnessed, is the most colourful and the most grand,” Castrillo-Hill said.

She explained Sinulog is a festival that began in Cebu for Catholics to celebrate the Holy Child, Jesus, locally known as Santo Niño.

Cebu is an important city to Filipino Catholics because it’s where Ferdinand Magellan gifted Rajah Humabon a statue of Santo Niño to spread Christianity in 1521.

In Fort St. John, Castrillo-Hill said Filipino Catholics began holding a Sinulog Festival in 2014 with support from the Catholic Church.

She said the festival in 2023 included a lot of teamwork and was very quickly organized.

Many community members were in attendance, including a Blueberry River First Nations Elder who draped a cloak around a Santo Niño statue at the church.

A Blueberry River First Nation Elder next to a catholic priest after she had draped a gifted cloak to the Holy Child statue in a catholic church.
A Blueberry River First Nation Elder placing additional religious symbols on the Santo Niño statue. (Ovvian Castrillo-Hill)

The celebration began in Cebu each January but eventually evolved to include rituals, floats, and street dancing.

Castrillo-Hill compared Cebu’s Sinulog Festival to the extravagance of the Rio Carnival.

She said she attended Sinulog in Cebu in the 90s, and since then, it has grown even more.

“We are elated that we are able to celebrate our festivals here in Fort St. John,” Castrillo-Hill added.

A group of dancers with a statue at a Sinulog festival held in a Catholic church in Fort St. John.
Dancers at the Sinulog Festival in Fort St. John. (Ovvian Castrillo-Hill)

Adrienne Rapliza, a dancer at the celebration and a lifelong Catholic devotee, said he grew up in Cebu.

“I grew up celebrating the festival and dancing our intentions with the Holy Child,” Rapliza explained.

He said the local event was a lot of fun, with many people in attendance who appreciated the celebration.

“It really means a lot to me because, as I’ve said, I’m a devotee and Catholic, I really believe in praying your intentions, and part of that is praying to the Holy Child,” he said.

Rapliza said the festival also promotes international comradery, as many people worldwide travel to Cebu to experience the festival.

In Cebu, the festival is attended by between 1 and 15 million people annually.

Photo courtesy of Ovvian Castrillo-Hill.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.