I spent my college life in Cebu, and joining then in the Sinulog festivities in honor of the Sto. Niño de Cebu is something that just became easy and common. I am blessed with classmates whom I call ‘brothers’ whose love and devotion to the Holy Child I immediately embraced. Things have changed; it isn’t easy now to attend the Sinulog, but my devotion hasn’t waned a bit.
Career life brought me out of Cebu and into the world. When I got posted again in the Queen City a few years back, I just discovered the ‘wave’ and realized that it is a Sto. Nino original. Though I’ve spent several years way back then, it was only in this last assignment that I discovered people waving to the Sto. Nino in the Basilica where it holds court, during the Traslacion and throughout the Sinulog procession. Something that I think and feel is really unique and intimate. Something that is borne out of deep love and respect for the Christ Child. And this is even earlier than the ‘wave’ popularized by a noontime show!
(As a backgrounder, on the last day of the Novena, a dawn procession is held wherein the icon of the Our Lady of Guadalupe is taken from its shrine and moved to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. After the procession, it will stay for a while in the Basilica. Then, the images of the Santo Niño de Cebu and the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Cebu are brought to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City, in a procession; to be reunited with St. Joseph (thus completing the Holy Family). This transfer, which is also done across the Philippines, is called Traslación.)
For now, as much as possible, every visit to Cebu is not complete without a visit to the Basilica del Sto. Niño. To the uninitiated Christian, the Holy Child indeed looks fragile, powerless, even voiceless. Yet to us, the Christ Child is undoubtedly very powerful and miraculous. One just has to ask every devotee going to the Basilica and surely you’ll be told countless stories of answered prayers and miracles. People from all walks of life embrace the dedication to the Holy Child that speak of intimate devotion and prayerfulness. Every personal crisis or every problem seems easy, especially when one’s love affair with the Christ Child is deep and indefatigable. I also have stories to tell about the countless favors, miracles and answered prayers that the Sto. Niño has been granting me and my family for so long as I can remember.
Yet, every devotee and faithful follower of Sto. Niño should endeavor to spread the Gospel values that emulate the Child Jesus, who ‘advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.’ (Lk 2:52). Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D., Head Convenor, Visayas Clergy Discernment Group, has exhorted that ‘…every family should provide the solid basis for Christian formation. Here, the young people can be strengthened and be trained for family, social and apostolic life, to build a new world where true democracy, equality, love, justice and peace reign.’
In this Solemnity, we express gratitude to Jesus for choosing to become our Sto. Niño. In the Christ-Child we see God caring, loving and constantly providing for all our daily needs, both material and spiritual.
Viva Senor! Viva Sto. Niño!