Sunday, January 20, 2008


The sudden afternoon rain sent most devotees seeking shelter inside the Tondo Church, while others rushed over to the neighboring fast food eateries. Meanwhile, there were those who braved the rain and brought out their pedicabs bedecked with greens, fresh flowers and icons of the infant Jesus. If Quiapo has the Black Nazarene, Tondo has the Sto. Nino.

The feast day of Sto. Niño in Tondo is celebrated on the third Sunday of January. It is one of Manila's biggest and heavily attended fiestas, not only because Tondo is the most populous district in the city and poorest but perhaps because of the many miraculous anecdotes connected with the Sto. Niño of Tondo.

It is celebrated with a fluvial procession that usually attracts thousands of visitors.
Nick Joaquin, in his Almanac for Manileños, described a typical celebration as follows:

“At four in the afternoon on the visperas (meaning the Saturday before) the Sto. Niño of Tondo is borne to the sea by a dancing crowd among which groups of women in pastora hats, or in katipuneda attire: white camisa, red saya. The dancing is through sunny streets hung with bunting and here and there will be a giant heart of bell that opens up as the Sto. Niño passes to unloose a shower of petals. Everyone dances, even the barefoot men bearing the image and the boys bearing standard or farol."

As for the anecdotes, legend has it that during the Spanish-American war, the Tondo church was used by the American forces as their quarters. However, their stay was no more than 24 hours because they had to vacate the church since everyone contacted smallpox after having occupied it.

During the Second World War, the Japanese turned the church into their headquarters. But much like the American colonial forces, the Japanese had to abandon the church when they could no longer endure the unexplainable sounds of crying babies in the middle of the night.

And during the liberation of Manila in February 1945, the Japanese troops set the church on fire. Msgr. J. Jovellanos, the parish priest, evacuated the Church taking with him the image of the Sto. Niño. Miraculously, the Tondo devotees who followed the image and Msgr. J. Jovellanos escaped unscathed the crossfire of bullets and mortal shells.

I didn't stick around for the evening procession because of the rain, but I intend to go back another day to visit the church and climb its stairs to touch the antique image of the Sto. Nino as Pusa of Manila Daily Photo had attempted to do last October.


posted by Señor Enrique at 7:51 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I was really expecting this entry, Eric, after seeing a tv news feature about it. . Was hoping for some pics of the fluvial parade, actually, but it's okay, these photos here are beautiful enough.

I remember our Sto Niño which we kept with us for many years. Over two feet tall, and dressed up with Gem's old yellow t-shirt bearing the words: "Save the Earth". I placed it in our carport ... It got stolen. :(

January 20, 2008 9:05 PM  

Blogger Photowalker said...

I was there Saturday. I followed the parade of one of the barangays until they converged with the others. It was one hell of a festive afternoon.

Took about 700 shots and am still picking out which ones to post.

But what really caught my attention were the different attires of the Sto. Nino.

January 20, 2008 10:28 PM  

Blogger armovil said...

Viva Señor Santo Niño! Pit Señor! The 2008 Romblon Biniray Festival held recently also honor Santo Niño. Hala bira!

January 20, 2008 11:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does the red candles symbolize? I was at Quiapo and saw a few others in variation of colors. I do know that each color has a certain meaning to it though.


January 21, 2008 12:17 AM  

Blogger DatuPanot said...

senor eric,

the anecdotal accounts of the sto. nino de tondo affirm its super-hero status (as described by stand-up comedian rex navarette).



January 21, 2008 1:00 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Allow me to say this for once, Eric. Your pictures are very evocative and truly define the Filipinos and the Philippines, and it is probably because parts of the many images connect to the past - old churches, buildings, streets, rituals, calesas, etc.

Contrasted with the images many of us see in the entertainment shows coming out of Filipino channels. That of beautiful people, well-coiffed and richly made-up, all elegantly garbed, and very glitzy sceneries, all it would appear trying to appear non-Filipino; like more Westernized. And they are succeeding very well.

One is then prompted to ask: is this good?

January 21, 2008 1:26 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Niño Jesús, yo recurro a Ti y te ruego por la intercesión de tu Santa Madre, me asistas en esta necesidad, porque creo firmemente que tu Divinidad me puede socorrer.

Espero con toda confianza obtener tu santa gracia. Te amo con todo el corazón y con todas las fuerzas de mi alma. Me arrepiento sinceramente de todos mis pecados, y te suplico, oh buen Jesús, me des fuerzas para triunfar. Propongo no ofenderte y me ofrezco a tí, dispuesto a sufrir antes que hacerte sufrir.

De ahora en adelante, quiero servirte con toda fidelidad, y por tu amor ¡oh Divino Niño! amaré a mi prójimo como a mí mismo. Niño omnipotente, Señor Jesús, nuevamente te suplico me asistas en esta circunstancia. Concédeme la gracia de poseerte eternamente con María y José y adorarte con los Ángeles en la Corte del Cielo. Amén.

January 21, 2008 3:19 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ola Otro Senor!

My Spanish is rusted but I take this as a solemn prayer to Sto. Nino.


January 21, 2008 6:33 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The Filipino TV networks' presentation may reflect a typical excitement and focus on the beauty queens and other participants of the local fiestas' festivities. It's good and dandy, but such imagery should be balanced with those of real local folks as well without whom there would be no fiesta at all.

Thank you, Amadeo!

January 21, 2008 6:40 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Not familiar but would love to see/hear his routine on it, DatuPanot. Interestingly, besides the people of Prague, I think the Filipinos are very much into the Sto. Nino. Cebu's Sinulog, I believe, is the biggest. The overall local devotion to infant Jesus is simply incredible!

January 21, 2008 6:44 AM  

Blogger Panaderos said...

Senor Enrique,

This is my first visit to your site and I must say that I am awed by the depth of your knowledge on various places around our beloved Manila. I did some backreading just now and I take my hat off to you for documenting those sites through your photos and write-ups. In your own way, you are helping preserve our heritage. Cheers!

I hope you won't mind if I link to your very informative site. It's become a quick favorite of mine. Thanks again.

January 21, 2008 6:45 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I lit a couple of red ones yesterday, Kyels. Personally, red is energy and life for me, but I'm sure there are more traditional meanings to this color of candle.

I'll look up the previous entries I've posted and comments received on the candles of Quiapo.

January 21, 2008 6:47 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks for letting us know, Armovil. From what I understand there are many other regions celebrating their very own Sto. Nino festival. Awesome, isn't it?

January 21, 2008 6:49 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! Can't wait to see your post, Photowalker. Couldn't make it last Saturday, though :( Only able to go yesterday, but the sudden rain kept most folks inside.

I'll see if I can cover the fluvian parade next year.

January 21, 2008 6:51 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

My sister has a similar statue that she dresses up with clothes worn by my nephew and nieces when they were small tots. But she doesn't take it out to be blessed during festivals.

Thanks, Rhoda! Perhaps, next year I'll get a chance to cover the fluvian parade :)

January 21, 2008 6:55 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

my family also observes the feast of Sto Nino, though we do not go through the rituals of dressing up the Sto Nino. We all gather as a family in a thanksgiving mass and celebrate the day with the whole family. i would want to see such processions though. thanks for sharing the pictures.

January 21, 2008 9:00 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Perhaps, next year, Dine, I'd get a chance to see the procession also. It's quite astonishing, though, how many folks dress up their icons of the Sto. Nino as if they were dolls. Awesome!

January 21, 2008 11:37 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hello Panaderos,

Thanks much for your visit and kind words. I just love Manila a lot :)

Interesting site you got; keep up the good work!

January 21, 2008 11:52 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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