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MANILA — The millions who are expected to attend the Eucharistic celebration to be officiated by Pope Francis at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, Manila on Jan. 18 are expected to render a welcome dance number similar to Cebu’s “Sinulog.”

“While Pope Francis is entering the area, he will see the faithful dancing the ‘Sinulog’ while they are carrying their Santo Niño images,” said Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas.

If there are six million people at the Luneta, I’m expecting six million images of the Santo Niño as well,” the prelate said.

Organizers of the papal visit have tapped the 50-member Sandiego Dance Company of Cebu to present the traditional “Sinulog” dance before Pope Francis.

In a report posted in Cebu Daily News, choreographer Val Sandiego said, the dancers will don Spanish-era costumes with the men wearing red and gold uniforms of Spanish soldiers.

“They will bring candles, white handkerchiefs, swords and shields, for a dance drama that tells the story of the coming of Christianity to Cebu.” Sandiego said he would suggest that they use the jingle “Sinulog! Syagit ug Kusog” with its vigorous drum beats amid shouts of “Pit Senyor!” to accompany the dance.

The performers will also be giving the mass attendees a tutorial on basic “Sinulog” moves with “steps that are very easy to follow. The dance would be broken down to three basic steps and would use less footwork with more hand movements due to space limitations at the Luneta,” Sandiego said.

“It’s not all about the choreography. What matters most is the offering. We offer this dance to the Santo Niño and show the Holy Father that the Filipino family is something to be proud of. The message here is that we pray together and we dance the ‘Sinulog’ as a form of prayer,” he added.

Meanwhile, except for the mass at the Manila Cathedral, all public Masses of Pope Francis in the country will no longer be said in Latin but rather in English.

Archbishop Villegas said the Vatican decided that English will be used in the Masses to enable the pontiff to reach out to more people.

“He (pontiff) wants to reach out to more people,” Villegas said. (Manila Bulletin)