The month of January is Sto. Nino Festival Month to honor and pay homage to the Child Jesus, through colorful, joyful processions of devotees and their Sto. Nino images. Several month-long festivals in various parts of the country are called by various names – Ati-Atihan, Sinulog, Binirayan, Dinagyang – but the focus is the Filipinos’ deep faith and religiosity. Sto. Nino devotion is a popular significant part of Filipino religious life.
Festivities peak on the 3rd Sunday of January, traditionally observed as Feast of the Sto. Nino. Metro Manila has the Lakbayaw in Tondo, the Buling-Buling in Pandacan, the Pajotan de Sto. Nino in Caloocan and the Bambino Festival in Pasig. Tribal-attired revelers with painted faces dance to the hala, bira! beat, while carrying the image of the Sto. Nino.
Devotion to the Sto. Nino is both a cultural and spiritual experience. The Department of Tourism lists crowd-drawing Sto. Nino festivals – the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Makato Sto. Nino in Poblacion Makato, and Altavas Sto. Nino in Poblacion Altavas in Aklan; the Dinagyang in Iloilo City, the Binanog in Lambunao, and the Hinirugyaw in Calinog, in Iloilo; the Sinulog in Kabankalan City, the Ibajay Ati-Ati, and the Dinagsa Ati-Atihan in Cadiz City in Negros Occidental; the Kahimunan Festival in Libertad, Butuan City; the Sto. Nino Festival in Malolos, Bulacan; and the Lakbayaw in Tondo, Manila. Reginal delicacies and native crafts are sold in trade fairs and stalls along the streets of the procession. The 40th annual Sto. Nino grand procession, organized by the Congregacion del Santisima Nombre del Nino Jesus, takes place towards the end of January when a hundred beautifully attired images mounted on carrozas, accompanied by dancing devotees, parade along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City.
Devotion to the Sto. Nino began in this country on April 7, 1521, when a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan brought the image, the Catholic faith to Cebu became the cradle of the devotion in the Philippines. It spread to Manila, Iloilo, Laguna, Tacloban, Bohol, Ilocos and in Mindanao. The oldest statue of the Sto. Nino has bee housed since 1565 at the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino in Cebu City. Worldwide, one of the well-known devotions is to the Infant Jesus of Prague in the Czech Republic.
We pray to the Sto. Nino for peace and prosperity for our country, the Republic of the Philippines, its leaders and the people, as we express our thanks and our appreciation for the blessings, graces, and protection he continues to bestow on us, on our families, and on our country. May 2014 be a better and safer year for the Philippines! MAY THE MIRACULOUS STO. NINO BLESS US ALL!
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