UCA News

Filipina beauty contestant accused of defaming Infant Jesus

Joy Dacoron has angered Catholics by wearing a costume like the wardrobe of the Infant Jesus of Cebu
Filipina beauty contestant Joy Dacoron wears a costume like the wardrobe of the Infant Jesus of Cebu and poses for photo in front of the shrine of Santo Niño de Cebu

Filipina beauty contestant Joy Dacoron wears a costume like the wardrobe of the Infant Jesus of Cebu and poses for photo in front of the shrine of Santo Niño de Cebu. (Photo supplied)

Published: May 20, 2023 04:40 AM GMT
Updated: May 20, 2023 04:46 AM GMT

A Filipina beauty contestant has come under fire from Catholics for wearing a costume like the wardrobe of the Infant Jesus of Cebu, known as a major symbol of Catholicism in the country.

Joy Dacoron, 27, wore the Child Jesus’ red cape with gold trimmings during the selection round of the Miss Universe competition in Cebu Island on May 18. She also wore a crown and held a scepter like the image of the Child Jesus.

She took photos inside and in front of the shrine of Santo Niño de Cebu, one of the country’s most popular shrines, and posted them on social media, triggering angry reactions.

Dacoron defended her choice of costume, saying she wanted to showcase the religiosity and faith of the Cebuano people.

“The Señor Sto Niño de Cebu is a source of inspiration and strength for numerous Catholic faithful. I am one of those,” Dacoron said in a press conference on May 18.

Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan brought the image from Spain as a gift to Raja Jumabon, the wife of the island’s chieftain.

A bishop called Dacoron’s act “blasphemous” for desecrating the image of a popular religious icon.

“This is blasphemous! The Archbishop, the clergy, and the religious men and women of Cebu must protest publicly against this desecration of the Santo Niño (Child Jesus),” retired Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon told UCA News.

Bastes said Catholics should not let the event pass without punishing those who were responsible.

“It is unbelievable that some dire act like this is shown to the public unpunished,” the prelate added.

Catholic youth group, the Kabataan para sa Santo Niño (Youth for the Child Jesus) in Cebu said Dacoron should have been more careful in choosing her costume because the Child Jesus’ garments were sacred to Filipino Catholics.

“There is an obvious lack of prudence here. She (Dacoron) should have been more careful because religious icons or artifacts should not be reduced to costumes. They embody our faith, yes, but not to be reduced as costume,” the group’s president Karlo Clotero, 28, told UCA News.

Clotero said they sent a letter of protest to pageant organizers for allowing Dacoron to wear the costume.

A member of the conservative Catholic group, Opus Dei, said the act lacks “maturity in faith.”

“This is lamentable and is an indication of the lack of maturity of our faith and devotion. Filipinos are getting confused between religious and cultural icons. Jesus, Mary and our devotion to them cannot be reduced to cultural and natural expressions because they are universal and supernatural expressions of faith,” Opus Dei member Maribel Balinas, told UCA News.

Balinas said education was important to enlighten Filipino Catholics on what it meant to be “artistic.”

“We need to intensify our efforts to enlighten and prevent further confusion,” she added.

Auxiliary Bishop Ruben Labajo of Cebu denied he permitted Dacoron to copy the Child Jesus’ costume in a beauty pageant.

“Joy’s request was to have her photo taken with one of the churches as her background. Creativity has to be paired with reflections from the Holy Spirit… There is a need for respect of culture and religion,” Labajo said in a press conference on May 18.

The prelate likewise said the image’s caretakers – the Order of Saint Augustine friars – were not aware of the pictorial until Dacaron’s pictures went viral online.

“Neither the Augustinian friars were informed that Dacoron would use the likeness of the vestments in the photo shoot,” the Cebu prelate added.

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