The “Santo Niño” or “Holy Child” is a Roman Catholic figure of the Child Jesus Christ. And being on a country where most of the citizens are Roman Catholic, Filipinos are known to be a great follower and really devoted to all their patron saints. Our love and devotions to Christ Child is phenomenal.
Filipino Catholics celebrates the religious “feast of Santo Niño” every 3rd week of January (which this year, falls on January 17). The feast is being celebrated in several parts of the country: the Ati-atihan festival in Kalibo, (Aklan), in Cadiz City (Negros Occidental), in Tondo (Manila), the Dinagyang festival in Iloilo City and the centuries-old Sinulog Festival in Cebu.
In Tondo, Manila, the Feast of the Sto. Niño is one of the biggest and heavily attended fiesta in the country. It has a biggest participation in the district, not only because Tondo is known to be the poorest and the populous place in the city, but also because of the many anecdotes connected with Sto. Niño de Tondo.
According to Philippine Historical Commission, the peoples of Tondo celebrated the feast day with a fluvial procession that “attracted thousands of visitors.” Tondo’s terrain at that time consisted of waterways and tributaries which were connected to Manila Bay, a probable reason why the present stone church of Tondo was constructed on elevated ground (several meters above sea level) to prevent sea waters from inundating the Church.
This religious feast is actually celebrated in various ways. Some parade an image of the Sto. Nino around the community; in order for devotees to be able kissed and caressed the image of Sto. Niño. This is accompanied by band playing, parade of marchers in aboriginal costumes, several native games at the plaza (town center), special numbers on a makeshift stage, and a feast or a grand supper later in the community or each home. A Philippine fiesta is always characterized by much eating and merry making, and outsiders and tourists are often invited to witness this religious feast.