Sto. Nino Feast: A Colorful Philippine Fiesta

Fire works accompanied by a loud band marching in the streets, people clad in aboriginal costume, and people racing to get in line for a front-seat view of the parade… These and more are the common sights of the Philippine fiesta celebrating the so-called religious feast of the Sto. Nino.

Commemoration of this Philippine fiesta goes on around the country in different seasons, depending on the date of a sighting tale of the Sto. Nino. Long ago the “boy Jesus” was said to have landed on Philippine shores and made several miracles in different parts of the archipelago. This was, according to tales, when the boy Jesus “disappeared” from biblical accounts, when he was aged 12 to 30. And those times, according to this tale, he went to the Philippines. Allegedly, where the boy Jesus did miracles, a Philippine fiesta emerged.

Other versions of the religious feast say an old image of the boy Jesus from Spain or other religious country was brought to their place. The said image did lots of miracles, again triggering a religious feast, falling on a date when the miracles started. This again made for another Philippine fiesta of the Sto. Nino on a different date.

This religious feast is celebrated various ways. Some parade an image of the Sto. Nino around the community to be kissed and caressed by devotees. 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.

In other places, an image of a “urinating” Sto. Nino is paraded. As people gather to touch it, a mechanism triggers the statue to “urinate” on the crowd. Anyone who got pissed on is supposed to receive favors of healing or fortune. Other places observe this Philippine fiesta by parading the image aboard a “pagoda” or a makeshift elevated raft where lots of people join the image in touring the river banks of the town. The rest of the crowd catch up with the pagoda by following it by the river banks on foot.

Though these religious feasts may differ in dates and styles, they all agree that the celebration of this Philippine fiesta ought to be fun—as befits the birthday of a kid. Some mischiefs are allowed to make the religious feast a semblance of a children’s party.

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