MANILA, April 25, 2015 — The discovery of the sacred, wooden image of the Santo Niño or the “pagkakaplag” is the subject of Kaplag 2015 International Conference that kicked off in Cebu City today, April 25, ending on April 28.
The event will “serve to heighten our awareness about the Christian roots of our nation and the special place the Christian faith occupies in our culture and identity as Filipinos and the Augustinian legacy, particularly on the origin and propagation of the Santo Nino de Cebu devotion in our country,” said Fr. Czar Emmanuel V. Alvarez, OSA in a letter.
History of faith
The resource speakers of the international conference are:
- Fr. Arnel Antonio Dizon, OSA, who will present the historical background on the finding of the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu;
- Fr. Luis Marin de San Martin, OSA, who will discuss the Augustinian general curia’s historical documents about early Christianization of the Philippines;
- Fr. Fernando Martinez Rojo, OSA will focus on Augustinian saints of the Orient and the Philippines;
- Fr. Emilio Quilatan, OAR on the Augustinian Order during the Reformation period;
- Sr. Ma. Luz Mejares, OSA on “Feminine Presence of the Augustinians in the Philippines”;
- Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno on Augustinian Heritage in the Philippines;
- Prof. Regalado Trota Jose, Jr. on architectural characteristics of early Augustinian churches in the Philippines;
- Prof. Ma. Patricia Brillantes Silvestre on the Musical heritage of the Augustinians in the Philippines and;
- Prof. Resil Mojares will present on developments from the finding of the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu until the present day devotional celebration
One of the highlight of the conference is the grand re-enactment of “Kaplag” to be followed by a Eucharistic celebration at the Santo Niño Pilgrim Center by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on April 27.
According to Alvarez, the conquistadores’ return to the Philippines 44 years after they had left when Ferdinand Magellan was slain by Lapu-Lapu brought about “one prodigious event”: the discovery or “kaplag” of an image of the Child Jesus by one of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s soldiers, Juan de Camús.
Historians believe the said image was the same religious icon Magellan gave to Cebu’s local queen Juana during her conversion and baptism in 1521 and the same image venerated at the actual Basilica Minore del Santo Nino in Cebu City today.
Cradle of first Christians
The place where the small statue of Santo Niño was found became the first church and convent of the Augustinians where friars had their formation and where the devotion to the Child Jesus flourished and was embraced by the local community.
Church history considers the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu as the “cradle of Philippine Christianity” and “the perpetual sanctuary of the Santo Niño de Cebu.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines formally requested Pope Paul VI in 1964 to confer the tile “Basilica Minore” to the Santo Niño Church. The said church houses the Santo Niño icon that was canonically crowned by the Papal Legate Ildebrando Cardinal Antoniutti. (Vanessa M. Puno/CBCP News)