Cebu Urban Legend: The Dancing Sun of Carcar

Have you ever heard about the dancing sun of Carcar? Is it true or just an elaborate hoax?

Editor's Note: Urban legends are tall tales that emerged from stories shared in small circles that eventually grow to a point where they gain a life of their own. With little or no supporting evidence, these stories are somewhat based on real events but often intertwined with outright lies and half-truths. Usually, these are passed down to the next generation and they evolved to describe some aspects of horror, humor, and even morality.

Have you ever heard about the mysterious dancing sun phenomenon that happened in the early nineties?

Well, that strange event in Carcar is shrouded in mystery as it intertwined with faith, public perception, and scientific scrutiny. While the legend persists in the hearts and minds of those who were present, the quest for truth continues. Whether a meteorological quirk, a shared illusion, or a genuine miracle, the dancing sun remains an enduring enigma, challenging our understanding to this day.

Let's unravel the layers of this popular urban legend by separating the myth from the facts.

The Origin Story

There are many stories of dancing suns that have left an indelible mark across different corners of the world. One of the most renowned occurrences took place near Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. Thousands of faithful witnesses reported a mesmerizing spectacle as the sun appeared to spin, change colors, and dance in the sky for around 10 minutes. This event, known as the Miracle of the Sun, became a testament to the power of belief for many.

Similar phenomena happened in places like Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where visions of the Virgin Mary were accompanied by reports of the sun performing extraordinary movements. These occurrences stirred both fervent belief and skeptical inquiry, blurring the line between the mystical and the scientific.

Amidst these miraculous events, the quaint town of Carcar found itself thrusted into the spotlight. Inspired by the visit of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima in 1989, Father John Rona sought to build a shrine known as the Theotokos Center. Nestled in Perrelos, this shrine gained attention when, on September 9, 1992, the sun displayed a miraculous dance during the blessing of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Coincidentally, a similar phenomenon unfolded in Agoo, La Union in March 6, 1993. The heavens seemed to perform similar visual signs in these distant locations, leaving both communities awe-struck. These mysterious events marked a unique chapter in the ongoing saga of dancing suns, intertwining the threads of religious devotion and inexplicable unnatural wonders.

The Myth and Legend

In our culture, where religion and remnants of ancient spirituality coexist, tales of the supernatural find fertile ground. The mysterious dancing sun phenomenon in Carcar, though rooted in a particular moment in 1993, became more than a mass hysteria event - it evolved into an urban legend and, for some, a haunting hoax.

Embedded in the cultural fabric is a fatalistic "bahala na" attitude, a surrender to fate deeply intertwined with a history of calamities. The Philippines, a nation accustomed to the caprices of nature, experienced economic recession, political upheaval, and natural disasters in the 90s, setting the stage for an urban legend to take root.

As rotating blackouts cast shadows, the Mount Pinatubo eruption spewed uncertainty, and typhoons Ruping and Mameng wreaked havoc, a collective unease permeated the air. The socio-political landscape provided fertile ground for the birth of urban legends. Amidst the uncertainties, the dance of the sun in Carcar emerged.

The 90s witnessed the rise of cults and fringe religious groups preying on these anxieties. The "end of the world" narrative, fused with indigenous lore, appealed to those grappling with the era's turmoil. More people have shown a growing fear of an impending apocalypse with doomsday expecting to tear the world apart in 2000.

The 1988 pastoral letter from the Catholic Bishops Conference, cautioning against the plundering of the land, echoed a sentiment that natural disasters were divine retribution. In the wake of Typhoon Uring, Mount Pinatubo's fury, and subsequent typhoons, the collective psyche sought solace in a return to faith. The Agoo dancing sun phenomenon, concurrent with Carcar's celestial spectacle, reinforced the perceived divine admonition.

However, misinterpretations of biblical teachings during this time fueled extreme beliefs. The dance of the sun became a metaphorical dance with faith, as individuals, yearning for meaning amid chaos, inadvertently contributed to the urban legend. During the height of that dancing sun frenzy, collective interpretations added layers of mystique, intertwining the phenomena with the uncertainties of an era seeking salvation in the heavens.

Finding the Truth

The phenomenon of the dancing sun, as witnessed in Carcar or Fatima, has sparked different interpretations — some grounded in science, others steeped in belief. As with the precedent events, many skeptics dismissed them as mass hallucination, but subsequent occurrences in Brazil, Colombia, and Bosnia Herzegovina triggered further scientific inquiries into the mysterious supernatural events. The one that happened in Carcar is no exception.

Artur Wirowski from the Lodz University of Technology delves into a meteorological perspective, suggesting that high-altitude ice crystals creating "sun dogs" and bands of rainbow colors might explain these phenomena. In his investigation since 2012, Wirowski proposes that electrically charged crystals oscillating could produce effects resembling the miracle. However, the mystery persists — why are sun dances reported in specific parts of the world?

Scientific skeptics, such as science writer Benjamin Radford, question the authenticity of the events. Radford attributes the reported miracles to psychological factors like suggestion and pareidolia. He highlights that, logically, if the sun were truly dancing, billions worldwide would have reported it. Radford also challenges claims of miraculous drying of rainwater, pointing out inconsistencies in weather reports and the absence of photographic evidence.

Theologian Lisa J. Schwebel raises further skepticism, citing the lack of consensus among witnesses and the absence of authentic photos. Witnesses' expectations and preparations, including darkening glass to view the sun, suggest a predisposition to see a miracle.

The phenomenon of prolonged sun gazing causing illusions is a recurring theme. Physicist Auguste Meessen argues that optical effects, like retinal after-images and color changes, are products of staring at the sun. Meessen's analysis, presented at the International Symposium "Science, Religion, and Conscience," posits that these optical illusions might explain sun miracles worldwide.

A cloud of stratospheric dust or Sahara dust, proposed by Steuart Campbell and Paul Simons respectively, offers a meteorological explanation. Campbell's hypothesis aligns with reports of a blue and reddened sun in China in 1983. Joe Nickell emphasizes that atmospheric phenomena, like sunlight refracted through clouds or moisture droplets, could create various colors and illusions.

The dancing sun phenomenon, observed in diverse locations, raises questions about the interplay of meteorology, psychology, and belief systems. As science probes the skies for answers, the dance continues, casting celestial shadows on the intersection of the extraordinary and the ordinary. The Mandela Effect, where collective misremembering alters perceptions, adds another layer to this intricate cosmic ballet—did the sun truly dance, or did collective consciousness compose a celestial symphony? The mystery endures, inviting us to navigate the delicate dance between belief and scientific inquiry.

In the pre-social media age, the Agoo and Carcar phenomenon did reach massive publicity as pilgrims and devotees from all over the country were attracted by it. However, time goes by and it all soon fizzled out. Even the people who took active part in these phenomena end up fading away into obscurity. However, that doesn't stop these dancing sun events from reappearing from our collective consciousness once in a while.

Oddly enough, some "ancient astronaut" theorists with the like of Giorgio Tsoukalos would have attributed these strange events as brought by extraterrestrials.


In our pursuit of understanding, let us embrace objectivity and critical inquiry. The dancing sun phenomenon, whether witnessed in Carcar, Fatima, or elsewhere, prompts us to question, explore, and seek explanations grounded in evidence. While the belief in this unnatural phenomena adds richness to our human experience, the scientific lens offers clarity.

Let's be more discerning by digging deeper for the truth. Always understand that there will always be human motives as to why these phenomena end up being promoted as miracles with some people cashing in with the narrative.

"Wenceslao: ‘Talking’ Sto. Niño icon, dancing sun," by John Paul Pilapil. SunStar Daily. February 1, 2014.
"Miracles,"  by Agustin Sollano, Jr., The Freeman. October 16, 2016.
Carcar heritages. Carcar Families: A Genealogy Blog for Carcar.
Theotokos. Where We Walked.
Miracle of the Sun. Wikipedia.
"Church: Philippine miracle a hoax," by Girlie Linao. UPI Archives. September 6, 1995.
"The Curious Case of Judiel Nieva," by Jens Cequina. Pop!. January 7, 2021.
"'Miracle of Agoo' and visionary Judiel Nieva: Real or hoax?," by Mark Angelo Ching. March 31, 2021.
"Weatherwatch: miracle of the dancing sun may be a meteorological event," by David Hambling. The Guardian. October 14, 2019.



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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: Cebu Urban Legend: The Dancing Sun of Carcar
Cebu Urban Legend: The Dancing Sun of Carcar
Have you ever heard about the dancing sun of Carcar? Is it true or just an elaborate hoax?
Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger
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