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    Fil-Canadians celebrate Feast of Sr Sto. Niño in Ontario

    Filipinos in Ontario, Canada recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of  the nationwide celebration of the Feast of the Sr. Sto. Niño in the Philippines.

    The festivities were held at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall, a community center for veterans in Stoufville,  Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada.

    Mass was celebrated in the venue by Fr. Antonio Barol, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Milbook, Ontario.

    “When my Mom initiated the first novena by our group in Toronto (now simply called Circle of Families and Friends) 25 years ago, there were only around 20 people, mainly relatives and friends from her hometown of Valencia, Bohol, whose patron saint is also the Sto. Niño,” said Ricardo Jorge S. Caluen, a retired history professor from MSU-IIT. “Now, our fiesta celebration attracts as many as 200 people.”

    “At such gatherings, we always inject a bit of Philippine culture, our opportunity to do so, during the entertainment portion of the celebration,” he added. “We teach our kids Philippine dances, such as the tinikling.”

    Our caro  (or carroza) is designed according to a certain theme for the year (often telling our migrant story). The preparation of the carrozza is the “Panaad”(vow) of Gil and Betty Pizarras.”

    𝐉𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝟐𝟏𝐬𝐭 || 𝐅𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐭𝐨. 𝐍𝐢ñ𝐨

    The Feast of the Sto. Niño is a religious celebration unique to the Philippines. The Spanish title “Sto. Niño” means “Holy Child”. Filipinos have a strong devotion to the Holy Child as can be seen through the presence of the Sto. Niño’s image everywhere—from houses to offices and from shops to jeepneys.

    This devotion is as old as Christianity itself in the Philippines. Colorful festivals such as the Sinulog in Cebu tell the story of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines and the acceptance of the faith by the locals.

    An estimated three million people braved the intense heat to attend the Sinulog Grand Mardi Gras at the South Road Properties in Cebu City on January 21, 2024, according to the police. This is the biggest feast day celebration among the many fiestas where the icon is venerated all over the archipelago.

    The Feast Day of the Sto. Niño is also celebrated in Lakbayao Festival of Tondo, Manila; Malolos, Bulacan; Sto. Niño de Batangan, Batangas City; and Biniray Festival in Romblon, in Luzon; Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City; Sakay-Sakay Festival in Maasin  City, Southern Leyte; Sinulog de Kabankalan, Kabankalan City, Negros; Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan;  and in the Halad Festival in Midsayap, North Cotabato; Kahimunan Tu Bayugan in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur; Kahimunan Festival of Butuan City;  Dangcagan, Bukidnon; and in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, in Mindanao.

    Prayer to Señor Santo Niño

    O Señor Santo Niño, You are our king and our god, we worship you, you are our strong Defender, we turn to you; You are the Patron of Cebu and Philippines, we come to you; You have made extraordinary wonders. Through your miraculous Image in these chosen islands, remember us. Look down at this poor soul that comes to You for help. Lead us with your wisdom, discipline us with Your Truth, console us with Your Tenderness, protect us with Your Might.

    We consecrate today our thoughts to You, only with You shall they be occupied; our words, only of you shall they speak; our sufferings, that we may endure them for your sake. We beg You, Señor Santo Niño, illuminate our understanding, kindle our will, cleanse our body, sanctify our soul. We wish what you wish, because you wish, as you wish, as long as you wish.

    Grant us, Señor Santo Niño, that we may feel love toward You, be strict toward ourselves, be zealous toward our fellowmen, and rightly despise the things of the world. Help us to overcome sensuality with strict discipline, avariciousness with generosity, anger with gentleness, indolence with zealous industry. Make us wise in counsel, courageous in danger, patient in adversity, humble in prosperity.

    Teach us, dear Santo Niño, how worthless is the world, how sublime is heaven, how brief is time, how long is eternity. Grant us, lastly, that we may remember You, adore You, and serve You here on earth that we may be happy with You. (photos courtesy of Ricardo Jorge S. Caluen)

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