Dinagyang feast’s focus: Sto. Niño, ‘people’s hope’

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Parish priest Fr. Raymund Edcel Algayaga, OSA leads devotees in the religious 'Sadsad.' (Photo: Christian Dumancas)

ILOILO City, Jan. 25, 2106 – As the social temperature rises due especially to the heated campaigning of those presenting themselves as the hope of the nation, the festival of the Sto. Niño in this city was an occasion for the faithful to be reminded of the real source of hope.

Presiding over the solemn concelebrated Mass at the San Jose Placer Parish Church during Iloilo’s “Dinagyang Festival 2016” on Jan. 24, Fr. Raymund Edcel Alcayaga, OSA, reminded the faithful that the devotion to Señor Sto. Niño should help us rediscover our hope and learn from Jesus who came to us in the form of a child.

“Do we believe that He can do all things? Then, let us go to the Sto. Niño with faith. Let us go to Him with hope. Hope that He will spare us from natural calamities. Hope that He will answer our prayers,” said Alcayaga.

And, he added, “Hope also means honest, orderly and peaceful elections” in reference to the upcoming elections and the intense campaigning currently undertaken by political aspirants.

“What do you see when you look at the Sto. Niño?” Alcayaga asked.

“You see a crown, a scepter, and an orb. All these signify power,” he said.

While acknowledging that Jesus, as King, had the power to do everything according to His will, the priest explained that “while the world is under Jesus’ power, this power is in [the hands of] a child.”

Approachable Sto. Niño

In contrast with the powerful of the world who project themselves as aloof, or even arrogant, “Sto. Niño is approachable,” he said.

“As King he is powerful. But he is also a child. That’s why we are not afraid of approaching him,” explained the priest.
Before thousands of devotees, including the Senate president, other government officials, and political candidates, at the Mass which was simultaneously broadcast over local radio, the Augustinian friar encouraged them to go to the Sto. Niño with renewed faith and hope.

In an interview with CBCP News after the Eucharistic celebration, Alcayaga explained why the theme chosen for this year’s Dinagyang Festival is “Señor Sto. Niño: Hope of the people”.

“In reference to last year’s theme: “Señor Sto. Niño: Hope of the poor”, we realized that the ones who needed the Sto. Niño were not only the poor but all of us.”

No matter how powerful one may be, said the priest, no one can say that he does not need the Sto. Niño.

Religious ‘Sadsad’s’ growing popularity

Proof of this, according to the priest, is the growing number of people from all walks of life participating in the religious “Sadsad.”

The religious “Sadsad” is the devotees’ traditional way of expressing their requests and gratitude to the Sto. Niño through dance and songs. It is usually held on the eve of the Dinagyang feast in front of the San Jose Parish Church.
Alcayaga said that although the parish has not yet started documenting particular cases, they have received several testimonies from devotees informing them of petitions that were granted after having participated in the religious “Sadsad.” (Fr. Mickey Cardenas / CBCP News)

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