The Walks of Kulot

WOK@the Sto. Niño Fiesta
January 12, 2010, 3:36 pm
Filed under: SIDETRIP | Tags: , , , , ,

A kid carrying an image of the Sto. Niño

Every third week of January, the whole Christendom in the Philippines celebrates the much anticipated feast of the Holy Infant Jesus – popularly known as the Feast of the Sto. Niño. It is a celebration that also commemorates a special event in the history of the Philippines when the Spaniards first introduced Christianity to the natives of Cebu. It is believed that during Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage, he came across the island of Cebu where he met Rajah Humabon and his wife Hara Amihan. They were invited to pledge allegiance with Spain and as part of the colonization, they were baptized into Christianity. As a token of their baptism, an image of the Sto. Niño was given to them and was believed to be the start of the Filipino’s devotion to the Holy Infant Jesus. The Sinulog Festival in Cebu is known to be the most extravagant and lavish celebration of the said festivity but different churches in the country –like the Sto. Niño de Pandacan in Manila and the Little Shrine of the Sto. Niño in Mandaluyong– also celebrate the same feast similar to the Sinulog. Street Dancing and a parade of the images of the Sto. Niño has been a tradition during the event. I was lucky enough to be part of this yearly tradition at the Little Shrine of the Sto. Niño in Mandaluyong that celebrates the feast a week ahead, and I am always amazed with the energy and enthusiasm of the people who attend this special feast – as we chant “Viva! Viva! Santo Niño!.”

This kid brought her image of the Santo Niño as she waited for the procession.

The Celebration
At 2:00 PM, the celebration started with a mass at the Little Shrine of the Sto. Niño. The church was jam-packed with devotees from different parts of the Philippines and abroad who just came home to join the fiesta. After the Holy Mass, the sound of drums and percussion instruments gave off a dancing beat which can be heard from outside the church. The upbeat music signaled the start of the procession, and devotees started to leave the church and line-up outside. The event calls no age group, because both kids and adults enthusiastically joined the parade carrying their images of the Sto. Niño. Most of the groups from the Philippines even made their mini “carosa” decorated with fresh flowers and garlands with the image of the Sto. Niño at the middle. As the music continued, devotees started to dance their images to the beat and everyone seemed to be enjoying the festive mood.

A drum and percussion group performed outside the church.

The queue of devotees outside the church waiting for the procession to start.

The queue of devotees outside the church waiting for the procession to start.

The streets of Mandaluyong was jampacked with devotees from the Philippines and abroad.

Cool Niño. Filipinos are fond of dressing up their Santo Niño images and this one in the photo is no exception.

This group of devotees joined the procession with matching red and white Filipiniana costumes.

This group of devotees joined the procession with matching red and white Filipiniana costumes.

The Ati-Atihan and the Pinoy’s creativity
During the procession, Ati-atihans dressed in colorful and flamboyant costumes gyrated to the beat of the drums. The Ati is a tribe in Panay island practicing Animism. Their pagan practice of worshipping their Anito gods or spirits from nature was later made into a Christian practice after they were converted into Christianity by the Spaniards. Today, dancers imitating the original Ati tribes can be seen dancing to tribal music in every Sto. Nino fiesta around the Philippines. This practice has also been a showcase of Pinoy creativity and resourcefulness because it is a challenge among the Ati-Atihan tribes to come up with an extraordinary costume that will stand out from the rest. Best in Costume and Best in Choreography are usually awarded to the best Ati group who performed well after the procession.

This dancer leads the group in synchronized street dancing.

One of the Ati-Atihan dancers.

Colorful costumes with ethnic influences are usually worn by the Ati-Atihans. But i guess the one in Ilo-Ilo are the authentic ones.

This group of street dancers made use of the "salakot" (farmer's hat) as props in their stint.

Beaded strings as part of their costume.

The Sto. Nino
At around 4:30 PM, the devotees are still in high spirit dancing, walking, and dancing around the outskirts of Mandaluyong. The loud music served as a siren to those in their homes to come out and pay homage to the Sto. Nino. Families brought out tables and made a make shift altar outside their homes and lighted candles as the procession passed by. Everyone was friendly and some families were kind enough to give water to tired and exhausted devotees who joined the procession. At the tail end of the procession, was the carosa of the Sto. Nino of Bulusan – the Holy Infant looked regal in his red suit and cape. A marching band followed the carosa playing music simply fit for a king. As usual, the procession ended at the chapel as the whole congregation sang the Santo Niño song with much fervor and enthusiasm.

The carosa of the Santo Niño.

The Sto. Nino fiesta was indeed a phenomenon. I am amazed how the Filipino’s faith to the Sto. Nino can be infused with merry making. Maybe, the subtle message that we can obtain from this is that sometimes it is okay to be child-like (not childish), just like the Santo Nino. His obedience and innocence is something that we must always emulate. I might not make it to the Sinulog Festival in Cebu this year, but being part of the fiesta in Mandaluyong gave the festivity more meaning. The flamboyant costumes of the Ati-Atihans, the tribal beat and the street dancing are just added flair to the occasion but what mattered most is the message the Sto. Nino would like to impart to his devotees – that just like him we must continue to grow in faith and love for God.

Santo Niño.

Viva! Santo Nino! Pit Senyor!


2 Comments so far
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viva sto nino viva nonoy po]

Comment by jeartly jan

very good kulot. congratulations. keep it up.

Comment by Carmina Aquino

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