Sunday, January 20, 2008


When the month of January comes, most Catholics look forward to one major event: the feast of the Sto. Niño - the Holy Child Jesus. Festivals across the country, save for Mindanao, mark the feast with week-long novenas, high Masses, and the most awaited street dancing akin to the Mardi Gras of Latin America.

The most famous among these festivals is, of course, Cebu's Sinulog. Although a recent concoction of Cebu's local leaders (just around 25 years old or thereabouts) to attract tourists to the beautiful island-city, the Sinulog has become the new face of these festivities surrounding the Niño. Of course it would be too unfair not to mention the Dinagyang of Iloilo and the Ati-Atihan of Aklan, both of which symbolize much of what religious fiesta means to the Philippines (the feast of the Black Nazarene is another story).

However, one festival remains obscure and this is the fiesta of the Niño in Tondo, in the city of Manila. I've lived in Cebu for 5 years and I have honestly grown tired of the Sinulog's one-step-forward-two-steps-backward routine, and the blatant commercialization of what is supposed to be a religious festival (I won't be surprised if the Niño will soon find itself clutching a beer bottle instead of a globe). This January, being my first time to visit Tondo, I made sure I was accompanied by a resident in the person of CBCP's Stephen Borja in visiting the "other" Niño of Tondo.

The image of the Sto Niño de Tondo. You can reach this via a staircase on the side of the church.

Altar and cupola glow during the High Mass

Detail. The belfry.

Facade sports left-over decors from Christmas. It is rare to find public clocks that work, but it is doubly rare to find one on a facade of a Philippine church building!

Ubiquitous vendors sprawl across the church's front lawn

Busy side streets surrounding the church

Broken images of several saints and of the Niño take solace in a lonely space near the altar. It is a custom in the Philippines to never throw away broken images of saints as these were blessed by a priest and thus are considered holy.

Pinipig for sale! Fragrant and chewy, they are a tourist's best friend during long walks like this. We used to buy this in San Fernando, Pampanga and Baguio, too.

Light a wish. Each color represents something. Pink for health, for instance. White for purity (of heart, I presume). Green for money. Brown for family requests. Blue is for inner peace. You can pray for all of the above by lighting a mega candle, where all the colors are twisted in one.

Note: This coverage was made in 2006.


Sidney said...

I missed the Tondo Fiesta. I went to Makati's Caracol instead. Too many fiestas...
Next year, for sure, I go to Tondo.

Citizen of the World said...

I did not really come to watch the parade in Tondo (if there was one). You can say that I did miss out on a photo op. I only got a few shots of the place.

Your photos (of Caracol and the others) are the best in the blogsphere!

Photowalker said...

Nice shots. I was in Tondo covering the procession that saturday. It was one hell of a festive celebration.

my gulch said...

ang kulay talaga ng piyesta sa atin no? at ang dami nila.