Candles, icons, prayers anyone?

This is a multimedia post Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Niño , the province’s patron, come to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.

It was a Friday and for devout pilgrims of the Sto. Niño, the Basilica is the place to be, just like in the Black Nazarene Basilica in Manila. I had to squeeze through the throng and gaze at the sea of people just outside the church participating at one of the hourly masses. After the masses are done, the number of devotees dimish and one could see some interesting rituals and practices come alive.

A statue of the Sto. Niño being readied for dressing.

A statue of an anatomically correct Sto. Niño being readied for dressing.

Snaking from the chapel into the street, people are lining up to have their chance of touching the glass partition of the Sto. Niño. At another area, some old and not so old ladies with candles in hand approach and offer to say prayers for you. For a peso per stick of wax, they dance the sinulog and once done, they give it to you, already blessed with their prayer and you can light it on containers that collect wax drippings just outside the walls. If you’re confident of doing it yourself, you can go to the lighting area where for a small donation, you can light small candles yourself.

Outside the walls, just beside the road are many stalls selling icons of the Sto. Niño and other religious images and trinkets. It’s a spectacular sight as rows upon rows of red and occassional splashes of green are neatly assembled, wrapped in plastic, one stall to the other. At some corner, newly painted plaster is laid out into the sun to dry or a seller is patiently sewing and gluing an icon’s cape.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.


  1. fortuitous faery
    January 25, 2009 @ 5:00

    love the reds! i have yet to explore cebu. it’s also interesting to see the sto. niños in “undressed” state.

  2. dong ho
    January 25, 2009 @ 16:59

    i bought one small sto nino when i left cebu last 2002. i cant leave this beautiful city without a sto nino.

  3. lawstude
    January 26, 2009 @ 20:56

    another great job and i love the video. you are really getting good at this medium. hope to see you in tv soon.

  4. estan
    January 27, 2009 @ 11:54

    faery, yes and I was surprised that even this small, it is anatomically correct 🙂

    dong, lawstude, thanx.

  5. Sidney
    January 27, 2009 @ 17:58

    I also love your multimedia… great images as usual…
    Hehehe…I still find you a bit nervous behind the micro but it is almost perfect… soon you can also be a broadcaster ! 😉

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    February 5, 2009 @ 8:16

    […] or kissing the rectangular block directly infront of them. At the same time, they are mumbling prayers and supplications with eyes closed in thanksgiving or for various […]

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    February 8, 2009 @ 17:02

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  9. South Cebu Semana Santa | langyaw
    April 7, 2009 @ 8:18

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  10. Langyaw in 2009 | langyaw
    December 31, 2009 @ 20:35

    […] you’ve never known it. It’s secrets, off-the-beaten-path travels, her people’s devotion to the child, God and king, the Sto. Niño with it’s attendant festival, the Sinulog. […]

  11. » Are you ready for Cebu’s Sinulog? | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    January 8, 2013 @ 2:48

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