The stupendous one-step-forward-two-steps-backward is upon us this time of year, and all mardi gras aficionados from all over flock the streets to witness first-hand the mother of all festivals unfold before their very eyes. While viewing it on TV is a tad less stressful (live coverage doesn’t come close to the actual sights and sounds), braving the rains (weather forecast doesn’t look very promising) and communing with the maddening crowd (okay, madlang- people is more like it) is a ritual beloved of devotees, we at ZeroThreeTwo shagit ug kusug suggest a Sinulog survival checklist for the newbie and old farts alike.

1) Prepare for the worst. The worst thing that could happen to you is to find yourself right smack in a stampede. Although it has NEVER happened in its 32-year-history, pandemonium is as predictable as the weather. But if you already have survived being packed in a crowd like sardines minus the sauce, looks like you are going to breeze this one through – because you are going to avoid the crowd. Say farewell to claustrophobia and/or agoraphobia if you want to live for the next year’s festivities.

2) Be ready to get wet and wild. Unless your fashion sense tells you wearing raincoats is the order of the day, the crazy weather notwithstanding, you might as well enjoy to be wet (from your own sweat) and wild (from the endorphin-releasing stranger’s sweat). You get the idea, right? The technique is just to blend in, go with the flow, and breathe.

3) Leave all your valuables behind. Bring only what you need, not your savings and the whole contraption caboodle. You should know by now that fancy cameras and smart phones are a target for pickpockets and hooligans on a holiday (unless you live under a rock). Especially this year that PLDT announced that it shall convert the Sinulog route into one huge wifi hotspot. Expect a throng of tech-savvy peeps covering the event for their loved ones who couldn’t attend this year’s staging.

4) Hoard food and water like there’s no tomorrow, and share it with your friends — unless you want to die from dehydration and starvation, whichever comes first. Besides, with all the crass commercialization the festivities bring, expect a super jack-up in all products displayed in the sidewalk. It’s not cool to grab a snack and roll your eyes when you hear the cash register.

5) Stay awake. Sinulog is allergic to sleep, and convenient stores are open 24 hours, that is if you don’t have a crib to crash in.  Although there is a liquor ban in the city, our thriving micro-entrepreneurs have a creative ploy to make a killing. Word of advice: If the sun is rising, you need to take your drunk self home (and be glad that it’s a holiday the Monday morning after).

6) Have a pocketful of prayers. Sinulog is supplication-in-dance. History tells us the Queen Juana leapt in joy when she saw the image of the holy child. The feast day is more important than the Sinulog festival itself. Need we tell you it is GOD himself that we are paying tribute here? Just in case you didn’t know, the Senyor Santo Niño de Cebu is not a saint, but the holy image of God as an infant.

7) Bring your sunny disposition with you, and a nice pair of sneakers. Remember, you are there to be merry. And boy, you will do lot of walking (parking areas are as hellish as a traffic jam). Have as much as fun as possible without getting in trouble. Dance with the super bass in your head or from a contingent’s band. Don’t be a curmudgeon. Like Christmas, this only happens once a year. If you survive this year’s celebration, you are legend. You’d live to tell what you did, and how.

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