Feature: Sto. Nino fluvial procession helps keep Christian faith alive
by T. Villavert
Iloilo City (22 January) -- The flower-bedecked boat carrying the pilgrim image of Sr. Sto. Nino sailed through the Iloilo Strait and Iloilo River for the aal fluvial parade, gathered people from all walks of life and helped keep the spirit of the Christian faith alive.
As an annual celebration held in his honor, the activity is the essence of the Dinagyang Festival.
The devotion to the holy child Jesus remained a powerful symbol of faith for centuries, and for Iloilo City started in 1968 when the image of Santo Nino was brought to San Jose Parish while a cofradia was organized by Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez, OSA, parish priest of San Jose and enshrined thereat.
Thereafter, the Dinagyang Festival was born and has become a joyous religious and socio-cultural celebration and then bestowed as the country's Hall of Fame Best Tourism Event.
Historical accounts had it that the Image of Sto. Nino, found by General Legazpi's men in Cebu in 1565 must have been left by Ferdinand Magellan as a gift to the wife of King Humabon on the occasion of her conversion to Christianity. The image which was enshrined in the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu, was presented to the people by the first Augustinian missionaries. The natives manifested their homage and veneration through dancing- known today as "sinulog".
The devotion spread out from Cebu throughout the islands where Christianity was accepted as faith.
Mr. Dominador Rivera, Vice-President of the Cofradia del Sr. Sto. Nino de Cebu-Iloilo Chapter said that there are recorded miracles accounted to the devotion of Sto Nino.
He said that devotees may petition their personal intention through a novena and Religious "Sad-sad" to Sto. Nino, likened to that of Sayaw sa Obando, at the San Jose Parish Church in Iloilo City.
And for 42 years since the first pilgrim image of Sto Nino was brought in Iloilo City, several devotees in the city and neighboring provinces in the region, and outside Western Visayas come to venerate the holy child as well as enjoy the cultural event dubbed Dinagyang Festival Sto. Nino.
Iloilo City Tourism Officer Ben Jimena said that Dinagyang Festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving for the godsend pieces of good fortune and for the divine shield protection.
"Dinagyang has become a wellspring of unity and hope, a bond that causes the whole community to work together, and a stage for Ilongo's culture of excellence. Dinagyang enthralls, captivates and entertains," Jimena emphasized. (PIA6) [top]