Santo Nino Celebration

The public is warmly welcomed this Saturday, January 21st to the annual Santo Nino Celebration, sponsored by the Fil-Am Club, to Holy Rosary Church at 1316 A Street, Antioch.

Join in for all or any of the festivities, which start with a resplendent 5:30 Mass with songs in Tagalog and offerings of flowers by elegantly costumed youth. At 6:45 a Filippino feast starts at the rear of the parking lot in the Father Vicente Dominican Hall. At 7:15 entertainment begins, which includes native and popular dance acts, comedy and vocal and instrumental solos. The food and show are both free.

The Celebration is one of the most festive in the Philippines, The origin dates back to the landing of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who was commissioned in 1519 by the King and Queen of Spain to find the Spice Islands. Instead, Magellan landed at Limawsa in the central Philippines.

He was befriended by King Humabon and Queen Juana of Cebu, who embraced Christianity. Magellan then used Cebu as headquarters for his exploration, Christianization and conquests, At the behest of the gracious King, Magellan agreed to join his fight against the neighboring Mactan tribe. He was killed.

In 1565 the Spanish organized a return expedition from Mexico. It was led by Augustinian priest, Andres Urdaneta, a world-renowned cosmographer. The natives, though, feared retribution and a battle quickly ensued. Pounded by cannon and superior firepower the natives retreated to the mountains. Their villages were decimated.

In the ashes a Spanish soldier found a wooden box with an unscathed image of the infant Jesus. It was deemed a miracle and for four and half centuries the icon has been venerated. Further devotion ensued from instances like the World War II bomb that heavily damaged the cathedral but, again, left the icon untouched.

A strong tradition of adoring the infant Jesus took root in the Philippines. The Cebu Cathedral was renovated on the 400th anniversary of the fire and declared by the Vatican a Basilica Minore, with all the attendant status and privileges.

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