Catholic Festivals Of The Philippines
Viva Pit Señor!
January in the Philippines is the month for Catholic festivities, Wherever you may be staying in the country and whatever may be the name of the festival you’re joining, you will certainly see lots of exciting activities, colorful parades, joyous street dances, and amazing fireworks. Filipinos are rather serious about putting on a big show to reflect their devotion, and nothing short of spectacular will do.
The Child Jesus, is more commonly known as Santo Niño in the Philippines. People from all walks of life and all ages have become devotees of the Sto. Niño, and the first month of the new year is their opportunity to give back all the blessings that they have received during the previous year.
Long before the arrival of the first Spanish colonizers in mid-16th century, the natives were already practicing religious devotions in honor of nature or their departed kinsmen. When the Spaniards came, the natives simply switched their heathen idols with Catholic martyrs, this coming together of folk beliefs and religious doctrines has given rise to some truely unique religious festivities and customs.
Several festivals in the name of Sto. Niño are held simultaneously across the Philippines. In Cebu, we have the popular Sinulog Festival, which is celebrated on the third Sunday of January. Off to the north-west, you can also join in the fun of the Ati-Atihan Festival, held on the second Sunday after the Epiphany in Kalibo, Aklan.
In Tondo, Manila, the ‘miraculous works of the Infant Jesus’ are celebrated in the Sto. Niño Festival on Sinulog Sunday and Bulacan, another province in the Luzon island, boasts of a festival of the same name held on the last Sunday of January.
The festivals are all dominated by images of Sto. Niño dressed up in different costumes and paraded on roads and across bodies of water. There’s a basketball player Sto. Niño, a fisherman Sto. Niño, a Sto. Niño sporting sunglasses and a Hawaiian floral shirt, and even a Sto. Niño playing cop. These seemingly amusing costumes show that the Filipinos truly believe the Sto. Niño to be a part of their daily lives. To them, the Sto. Niño is not simply a distant and abstract religious icon, but a friend and an ally as well.