Sto. Niño de Tacloban tours ‘Yolanda’-hit barangays

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TACLOBAN City, April 25, 2015 -– The Niño continues to draw the faithful in Tacloban.

Parishioners and devotees of the Señor Sto. Niño de Tacloban need not visit the city’s patron because it is currently on pilgrimage to typhoon-hit barangays, offices and schools under the parish’ jurisdiction as a pre-fiesta event, a tradition that has been observed for decades.

The miraculous image of Señor Sto. Niño de Tacloban, the El Capitan, goes on fluvial procession every feast day on June 30. (Photo: Eileen Ballesteros)

There are 45 barangays within the parish which were all hit by typhoon Yolanda’s storm surge, which brought 7-foot waves. Many attest to the Señor Sto. Niño’s particular protection when the super typhoon struck, further endearing the city’s patron to the faithful.

The barangay tour kicked off on April 20 and is set to visit government offices sometime this May. While in the barangay, the image goes from home to home as previously arranged by the barangay leaders. Same rites are done as well.

In June, a few days before the feast day, the image will stop at various schools.

Child Jesus’ miracles

According to Becbec Campo, a long time parish volunteer and a Catholic Women’s League member, the pilgrimage, which has been a parish custom since the early 1990s, is one way of bringing the Señor Sto. Niño de Tacloban closer to parishioners.

Tacloban residents celebrate the feast of the Señor Sto. Niño on June 30 as it is believed that it was on this date that the said miraculous image cured many cholera-striken residents upon its return to the city.

The image previously got lost in a sea voyage from Manila to Tacloban in 1889 after it was commissioned for restoration, except for its face, which is of pure ivory. It is said that there was a cholera outbreak in Tacloban the day the image got lost at sea when the ship carrying it caught fire.

Three images

There are three images of the Señor Sto. Niño de Tacloban that the devotees take care of: El Capitan (the original miraculous image reposed on the retablo); El Teniente that is left in the house of the June fiesta hermano during the year; and El Sargento that stays in the house of the hermanito of the feast in January.

Señor Sto. Niño de Tacloban was also declared patron of Leyte by a decree issued on June 1, 1967 by the late Bishop Teotimo Pacis of the Diocese of Palo.

Msgr. Bernie Pantin, CBCP Assistant Secretary-General and former pastor of the Sto. Niño Parish said the Sto. Niño’s patronage over Tacloban is also why it visits all the towns in the province of Leyte and not only the barangays within the city of Tacloban. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News)

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