As one visits Cebu this time of year, expect both local and foreign tourists flocking the city just to join the celebration of the Feast of the Señor Sto. Niño of Cebu.
The Sto. Niño (Holy Child Jesus) was Ferdinand Magellan's gift to Queen Juana, the wife of Rajah Humabon of Cebu on April 14, 1521 after their baptism to Christianity. Years later, the image was found inside a wooden chest in one of the burned huts of the natives by Juan de Camus, a Spanish soldier under Miguel Lopez de Legaspi's expedition on April 28, 1565. This discovery was mentioned by Legaspi to the Spanish king Philip II in one of his letters.
From that time on, the devotion to the Sto. Niño spread from Cebu to all parts of the Philippines. The image is housed at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.
This year's celebration is filled with religious and cultural activities. A daily novena started from January 7 to 15. A fluvial procession took place on January 16 where a re-enactment of the arrival of the image to the Philippines and the Mass and baptism of the natives took place.
His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu officiates the Pontifical Mass on January 17. The Thanksgiving Mass will be held tomorrow January 18 followed by the traditional Hubo on January 22. The Hubo is a ceremony where the Sto. Niño's garments are replaced with a new one.
Along with the religious celebration is the Cebu City government's Sinulog 2010 activities that highlights the grand parade today. Millions of people are expected to join the revelry.
The Philippine stamp above features the Señor Sto. Niño of Cebu and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño released on June 4, 1985.