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.
This is the second to the last post on the Sinulog/Sto. Niño
Viva! Pit Señor Santo Niño! The lady at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño peppered her fast prayer like rapid machine-gunfire bursts as she was waving the candles in the air that a devotee got from her. This coupled with the familiar steps of the sinulog dance but instead of the two steps forward one step backward footwork, she was just stationary. A gyration of the hips, a short and abbreviated movement of the feet plus her rapid chant is enough to help pilgrims who need all the supplications they can get. After this, the candles are lighted and one’s prayers are said just outside the walls. However, it’s not only candle vendors who do the sinulog but fervent devotees do so from time to time.
This is a common sight at the Basilica as pilgrims from all over come and venerate the image, considered the oldest in the Philippines, in supplication for a favor or as thanx for a blessing received. It’s also an opportunity to witness face to face what the real sinulog is. Accounts say that this prayer dance goes to pre-Spanish Philippines and legends abound regarding how it started. Whatever the case may be, the sinulog has always been observed by the Sto. Niño’s faithful before it was hijacked by the local government and transformed into a big commercial festival.
One God, two different ways of honoring the Christ. The devotion to the Sto. Niño is done in honor of the child Jesus while the Black Nazarene is of the suffering adult. Both is said to be two of the three biggest religious devotions in the Philippines, the third is the Virgin of Antipolo.
The difference is at both ends of the spectrum and it is more pronounced during the procession. While the latter is more of a fanatical orgy marked with scuffles, blood, injuries and sometimes death with pilgrims trying to touch the image, often with fatal results, the former is more subdued, peaceful and organized. It is one of the moving experiences, as expressions of faith is concerned.