Filipinos have a special affection for the child Jesus. We Cebuanos are probably even more devoted than most Pinoys, as He is the patron of our province. In a number of ways, many Cebuanos and Santo Niño devotees from other places show their devotion to Him for His feast and for Sinulog.
Walk with Jesus
On January 5, 2012, a penitential foot procession that began at dawn was dedicated to Señor Santo Niño. Called “Walk with Jesus,” the procession had the participation of an estimated two hundred thousand devotees.
Devotees started flocking to Fuente Osmeña as early as 2:00 AM for the start of the procession, which was actually at 4:30 AM. During the walk to the Basilica del Santo Niño, they carried candles and images of Señor Santo Niño and prayed the rosary. They also sang the traditional hymn to the Santo Niño, “Bato Balani sa Gugma.”
The religious image of the Santo Niño and the devotees arrived at the Basilica at about 5:30 AM. The first of the series of nine novena masses was held afterward. The devotees braved the rain shower that fell during the mass that morning.
The Señor Santo Niño grand foot procession is set on January 14, 2012, the eve of His feast day. The new procession route is 6.8 kilometers long, passing through Osmeña Boulevard up to Fuente Osmeña, General Maxilom Avenue (a.k.a. Mango Avenue) toward the Carreta cemetery, M. J. Cuenco Avenue to P. Gomez Street near the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, and back to the Basilica del Santo Niño.
According to the Cebu City organizing committee, the route change would give many people a chance to experience what it’s like when the Santo Niño passes by their home. Medical stations will be placed along the grand procession route and will be handled by personnel from the Philippine Red Cross and medical schools. The Metro Cebu Water District intends to set up water stations along the route.
A motorcade for the Santo Niño known as the Traslacion is scheduled for January 13, 2012. The Santo Niño’s image is brought to the National Shrine of Saint Joseph in Mandaue from the Basilica del Santo Niño. From the Basilica, the contingent bearing the images of the Santo Niño and Our Lady of Guadalupe will pass along a modified route in 2012: Osmeña Boulevard, then a right turn to D. Jakosalem Street, right to General Maxilom Avenue, Governor M. Cuenco, Juan Luna, and M. J. Cuenco to the Cebu-Mandaue boundary in Barangay Mabolo.
The motorcade will pass a number of landmarks, among them the University of San Carlos Boys’ High campus, Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Asilo de la Milagrosa, the Knights of Columbus office, the three diocesan seminaries, the Carmelite monastery, and the church of St. Joseph the Patriarch. The new Traslacion motorcade route will be implemented every other year.
With thousands of pilgrims from all over the Philippines gathered in Cebu City for the feast of Señor Santo Niño and the Sinulog festival, a need for a place to house them arose. Some of the pilgrims are housed in the Devotee City.
Through the efforts of the Devotee City committee (whose chairman is Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias), pilgrims from Bohol, Dumaguete, Leyte, Samar, Siquijor, and other Philippine provinces are accommodated in the Devotee City if they cannot afford to stay in hotels and don’t have relatives in the city. The Devotee City is located at the Compania Maritima, Cebu International Port, and has 110 twenty-footer two-level vans in place to shelter about two thousand devotees. Additionally, a mess hall is also going to be set up for the devotees to eat their meals in.
The area is provided with electricity, comfort rooms, and even Wi-Fi. All the activities inside the Devotee City will be video-streamed, and the video stream may be watched real-time on the Cebu City government Web site. The Devotee City will start welcoming pilgrims on January 15, 2012. Devotees are required to keep and present only their bus and boat tickets. Fluvial parade tickets will be raffled off to allow some devotees to attend the fluvial procession.
The Aboitiz Group, Julie’s Bakeshop, and other sponsors partnered with the Cebu City government to provide snacks and activities for the devotees. Assigned police personnel will see to the security of the Devotee City, with help from community watchmen.
Some people express their love of the Santo Niño through collecting icons of Him. One such person is Val Sandiego of the local Sinulog Dance Studio.
Sandiego has amassed more than a hundred blessed Santo Niño icons, including one his family saved from a fire that hit their house in 2002. As of 2012, he has been collecting the icons for forty-eight years since he started his collection when he was just a small child and saw a dance for the Santo Niño performed by a dance troupe led by his mother, who was head of the University of San Carlos PE department. Many of his Santo Niño figures were gifts to him over the years, from godparents.
The Santo Niño Flower
If you want to make a floral offering to the Santo Niño, then you may be interested to know that He has an official flower, the celosia. Red and yellow are the colors of both this flower and the Santo Niño, which was garbed in those colors when Magellan brought the icon to the Philippines in 1521. The Sinulog Foundation Inc. declared the celosia as the official Sinulog flower in 2000.
The celosia is a tropical annual herb of the amaranth family. It has alternate leaves and showy flower spikes that often take the shape of feathery clusters in the cultivated forms of the plant. According to Cebu grower Arnel Opte, the celosia can last up to two weeks after cutting.
In other parts of the world, the celosia is called “flaming love.” This name probably refers to the origin of the word celosia; it comes from the Greek word kēleos, which means burning.
At the Halad sa Santo Niño Flower event presented in October 2011, by the Cebu City Hillyland Management Board, board consultant and former Cebu City councilor Franklin Seno explained that the celosia came to Cebu in 1991, from Haarlemmermeer, Holland. Cebu has sister city ties with Haarlemmermeer, and when the Cebu delegation to the Dutch city came back, they brought celosia seeds for Cebu’s mountain barangays with them, along with other gifts from Haarlemmermeer.
A) Basilica del Santo Niño
B) University of San Carlos Boys’ High campus
General Maxilom Avenue
C) Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion
D) Carmelite monastery
E) St. Joseph the Patriarch church
F) Compania Maritima
Cebu International Port