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Central Philippines gears up for feast of Child Jesus

Cebu government to allow street parties for first time during annual celebration

UCA News reporter, Manila

UCA News reporter, Manila

Updated: January 15, 2020 02:57 AM GMT
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Central Philippines gears up for feast of Child Jesus

A performer dances during the annual grand parade in honor of the Santo Nino or Child Jesus in Cebu. (File photo by Joe Torres)

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Filipinos are gearing up for the annual festival in honor of the Child Jesus, which attracts millions of devotees every year, in the central Philippines.

For the first time, the city government of Cebu announced that it is allowing street parties to be held near the route of the feast's grand parade.

The government, however, said it will implement a "liquor ban" within 100 meters of the parade route.

Authorities said phone signals may still be shut off during major events, such as during the solemn procession on Jan. 18 and the grand parade on Jan. 19.

At least 6,000 policemen plus an augmentation force of 2,000 others and 12,000 volunteers will be deployed to ensure security as millions of foreign and domestic visitors are expected to attend.

Meanwhile, in the nearby province of Iloilo, Church officials said at least 5,000 candles will be lit on a street outside a city church to form a giant image of the Child Jesus on Jan. 18.

The event is part of religious activities during the province's own festival, called the Dinagyang, in honor of the Santo Nino, or Child Jesus.

Iloilo's Dinagyang Festival started in 1967 when a replica of the image of the Child Jesus from Cebu was brought to the province.

"We focus more on how to deepen the devotion to Senor Santo Nino," said Father Edcel Alcayaga, priest of San Jose de Placer Parish.

The devotion of Filipinos, especially people from Cebu, to the Child Jesus has deep historical roots.

The image of the Holy Child was brought to the country by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on April 14, 1521, as a gift to Queen Juana of Cebu.

She and her husband, Rajah Humabon, and some 800 natives, were baptized, thus establishing Christianity in the country.

In 1565, when Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu, a Spanish soldier found the image inside a burned house of a native.

Legazpi then named Cebu as the "City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus."

Today, the image now known as Santo Nino de Cebu, is considered the oldest Christian relic in the country.

 

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