Viva Santo Nino!

Sto Nino de Cebu
     The Sto. Niño is a representation of the Child Jesus which literally means “holy child.” Filipinos, being largely Roman Catholics, venerate and are faithful devotees of the Sto. Niño. Many feasts are offered in honor of the Child Jesus and are celebrated every third Sunday of January.
      The devotion to the Sto. Niño is a mark left by the Spaniards when they assumed power over the PhilippinesFerdinand Magellan's arrival in Cebu shores gave birth to what is now an active religious tradition in the Philippines – a wooden image of the Sto. Niño was given as a gift to Hara Amihan (Queen Juana), wife of Rajah Humabon (King Carlos) – the two with their people were later baptized into the Catholic faith.
     Various provinces in the Philippines have their colorful and grandeur fiestas in honor of the Sto Nino. Some of them are listed below:


   The Sinulog Festival is a Philippine festival which honors the Sto. Niño. The festival commemorates the Cebuano people's pagan origin, and their acceptance of Roman Catholicism. The main highlights of the festival include a religious procession which takes place on the last Saturday, a high Mass wherein the traditional Sinulog dance is performed and a large street celebration on Sunday to culminate the fiesta.
   The word sinulog comes from a Cebuano word meaning, “like the movement of water currents.” The name is a reference to the forward-backward steps in the Sinulog dance. The festival features a street parade with participants in bright colored costumes dancing to the rhythm of drums, trumpets and native gongs. The dancers basically take two steps forward and one step backward to the beat of a drum.

 The Dinagyang Festival is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City held on the fourth Sunday of January. It is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to celebrate the arrival on Panay of Malay settlers and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis. The Dinagyang is divided into three Major events: Ati-Ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing and Miss Dinagyang.

   Today, the main part of the festival consists of a number of "tribes", called "tribus", who are supposed to be Ati tribe members dancing in celebration. There are a number of requirements, including that the performers must paint their skin brown and that only indigenous materials can be used for the costumes. All dances are performed to drum music. Many tribes are organized by the local high schools. Some tribes receive a subsidiary from the organizers and recruit private sponsors, with the best tribes receiving the most. The current Ati population of Iloilo is not involved with any of the tribes nor is they involved in the festival in any other way.

    The Ati-Atihan Festival is a feast held annually in January in honor of the Santo Niño , concluding on the third Sunday, in the island and town of Kalibo, Aklan.Ati-atihan means "to be like aetas”. The Aetas were the earliest settlers of Panay Island where the province of Aklan is. The festival consists of tribal dance, music, accompanied by indigenous costumes and weapons, and parade along the street. Christians and non-Christians observe this day with religious processions. It is the mother of all Philippine Festivals because Sinulog Festival of Cebu and Dinagyang of Iloilo are adaptations of the Kalibo Ati-Atihan Festival. The Ati-Atihan was originally a pagan festival from this tribe who practiced Animism and worshipped their anito god. Spanish missionaries gradually added a Christian meaning. Today, the Ati-Atihan is celebrated as a religious festival.

fluvial procession

  In the capital town of Romblon annually hosts its own unique festivities in honor of the Sto. Niño. The celebration is filled with dancing, music and a carnival atmosphere. The fiesta is highlighted by a flotilla of vessels that circle Romblon Bay seven times. This is followed by a colorful parade of marchers adorned with flowers and brightly painted costumes and faces. They accompany the Sto. Niño as it carried through the streets of the capital aboard a palanquin, a litter held aloft on bamboo poles.   


   Aside from the fluvial parade and procession of the Sto. Niño images, another highlight of the celebration is the Lakbayaw Festival. Lakbayaw comes from the word “lakbay,” which means travel or journey and “sayaw,” which means dance. With the theme “Hiling mo isayaw mo kay Sto. Niño,” this annual street dancing event gathers religious organizations, schools, community groups and residents of Tondo as part of their devotion to Sto. Niño.

Other Feasts of the Sto. Niño include:

PACHADA SEŃOR of Cagayan de Oro
KINARADTO FESTIVAL of Buenavista Guimaras

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