Negros Oriental

Sinulog sa Tanjay Festival

Sinulog sa Tanjay Festival, also called Sinulog de Tanjay Festival, is a major cultural festival and religious fiesta in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, Philippines every July 25.

The date may be proclaimed a special nonworking holiday (see Proclamation No. 10 in 2022).

The city also celebrates the Tanjay City Charter Anniversary every April 1, Tanjay City Children’s Festival every January, and Aurora Festival every August.

History of Sinulog sa Tanjay Festival

Sinulog sa Tanjay Festival is based on a theater popular during colonial period called the Moro-moro.

The Moro-moro was invented by Spanish colonizers as a tale of the battle Christians on one hand and Muslims, called Moros (itself from the word Moor that referred to Islamic population in Europe in the Middle Ages) on the other.

There are various records that purportedly point to the conflict upon which the festivity is based. Some accounts state that it was based from Reconquista, a centuries-long campaign in Europe against Islamic adherents that culminated in Granada, Spain where the bones of St. James the Great were exhumed.

Others indicate that the event was based on one of the skirmishes of Christianized Filipinos defending their homes from Muslims who conducted sea piracy during colonial period.

Tanjay was one of the places attacked by these Moro raids. The old sinulog was based on the victory of the Christians against the attackers, fighting against the pirates to spare their lands from wanton destruction and pillage.

The sinulog tradition was first presented in Tanjay in 1814. Spearheaded by the parish priest, it was woven into the annual fiesta celebration in the following years except in 1897. It was re-staged in 1904.

Throughout its history, the tradition would experience similar period of inactivity. The outbreak of World War II had halted its presentation. A resurgence came in 1947, and by then it had been conducted by non-religious organizers since 1932.

The 1970s ushered in a new way of celebration were participants were young students from local schools.

The yearly tradition had became an indispensable part of the local culture that Sinulog sa Tanjay was presented in the Folk Arts Theater in 1981.

During the term of Mayor Arturo S. Regalado, the staging of the sinulog dance was re-introduced in the format of a competition.

Later, the yearly Sinulog sa Tanjay became Saulog de Tanjay. Its rebranding was pushed by Mayor Baltazar T. Salma to distinguish the fest from Sinulog Festival of Cebu.

The original name has since been restored.

Devotion to St. James the Greater

At the heart of Sinulog sa Tanjay Festival is the religious devotion to St. James the Greater, the titular of the colonial-era St. James the Greater Parish Church and the patron of the city.

Spanish colonization brought Christianity to the archipelago whose inhabitants were believers of animism.

In 1565, the expedition of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was anchored in Bohol. Some of his men were in a ship going to Cebu, but its was carried off to the island of Negros, which was called Buglas, from unfavorable weather conditions.

The Spanish sailors reported back to Legazpi that the island was inhabited by dark-skinned settlers, and it was renamed after the aborigines. In 1571, Legazpi gave the island as encomienda to the colonizers who accompanied in his expedition.

Augustinian friars founded the church in Tanjay on June 11, 1580 and it was called Missión de Santiago de los Ríos de Tanay. However, the Augustinians left because of inadequate personnel.

Its administration was given up to the Diocese of Cebu. The Jesuits also came to evangelize in the next century.

In 1851, the Augustinian Recollects took over the church but it was then surrendered to the diocese. Only in 1866 upon the unexpected passing of the parish priest that the Recollects took charge of the church once again.

The parish was once part of Diocese of Jaro in 1865, then of Diocese of Bacolod in 1933, and of Diocese of Dumaguete in 1955.

Sinulog sa Tanjay Festival

The festival consists of religious and secular activities. Novena prayers and mass are heard for nine days leading up to the feast day when the solemn procession is held.

Secular activities are organized by the city government of Tanjay. Its calendar may stretch for the entire month of July (such as in 2022). These include beauty pageants (Matron Quee and Miss Tanjay), live band, street party, competitions, cultural presentations, variety shows, sports, talent contests, races such as Sakayan Race (boat race), pet shows, trade fair, and

Sinulog sa Tanjay is presented in the 25th of July.

How to reach Tanjay City, Negros Oriental

Tanjay City can be reached via Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport or sea port and a land travel by buses.


Sinulog sa Tanjay Festival Summary

NameSinulog sa Tanjay Festival
CelebrationCulture, Religion, Dance
ChurchSt. James the Greater Parish Church
Contact(035) 527 0823 & (035) 415 3138
DateJuly 25
LocationTanjay City, Negros Oriental
OrganizerCity Government of Tanjay
Other NamesSinulog de Tanjay Festival
PatronSt. James the Greater
Previous NameSaulog sa Tanjay Festival, Saulog de Tanjay Festival
ReligionRoman Catholic