Sto. Niño vs anito-A A +A
As I See It
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
OUR pre-colonial ancestors had varied religious beliefs. Their supreme god and creator got varied names also based on a particular region and vernacular spoken. That one sacred and powerful god was up there and was responsible for the cosmic plan. Our ancestors were also animistic. They were even worshiping the inanimate… mountains, rocks, and the natural phenomena (wind, thunder, fire, earthquake).
They also believed in the lower class of ‘deux ex machina’… ‘tamawo, kapre,tayho,diwata and anito’.
My visual artist provided me a drawing of an ‘anito’ from Mountain Province. It looks like a gray alien oftentimes associated with UFO. Could it be possible that the god being referred to by our ancestors was an extraterrestrial being? The ‘kapre and the tayho’ could be a result of the cross breeding of the earthlings and the ETs? The ETs in their rocket packs could have been mistaken as the flying ‘aswangs’? I am not talking of divine profanity here because our primogenitors were not yet indoctrinated by the missionaries.
When Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was sent in our islands in 1569 to conquer our forefathers, the Spaniards called them ‘indios’… uncivilized, wild, untamed animals. In order to tame them they were converted to Christianity. They were baptized and later on were introduced to other sacraments.
The sign of the cross was the rallying point. Those who did not follow were given the option, the sword and the gun. Humabon preferred the cross. Lapu-lapu preferred to face the sword and the gun. That was history even before Legaspi.
History redeemed our ancestors. The civilized Spaniards were land grabbers. The Sto. Niño statue was the icon left to us by the Spaniards as one of the proofs that we have abandoned the ‘anitos’ and our animistic way of life.
We are now Christians. We go to confession and we receive the Holy Communion. We memorize the Ten Commandments and we pray the Holy Rosary. We celebrate fiestas and we support our Catholic Church. We have more chances of going to heaven.
January is the Festival Month of the Sto. Niño. We love the Child Jesus. His image is always smiling. He does not get angry. He is cute. In our many January festivals, the statue or the image is the nucleus of the street dance. We shout, “Viva Señor Sto. Niño!”
In our street dancing, we also commemorate the minds and dance steps of our Ati ancestors who were worshipping the ‘anitos’. When we became Christians, we are still having the same dance but we are no longer carrying the ‘anitos’, we have now the Sto. Niños …a policeman, a fisherman, a doctor, an engineer, a navigator, an OFW worker, or a pilot. The Sto. Niño is the best substitute. Before the Ati dance, we even have the mass and the dancers obtain the blessing of the priest.
For the sake of tradition, art, tourism and commercialism… this may be good. It is fun and business. It attracts foreign and local tourists. It becomes a craze among teen-agers. They love to paint each other’s face with latex paint after the merry making. At the end of the day, everyone looks like a Navi of the movie ‘Avatar’. Everyone has his own spectacle and illusion. It’s okay if your purpose is just to look funny. If faith or religion is attached to it, it may be dangerous.
Exodus 20:4-5 is very clear. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shall not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them…” Those in authority should make their stand here.
I do not say that this is paganism. I am not Constantine V who was backed up by Iconoclasts (those who rejected the images). Even the early Christians were warned by Paul and John to abstain from the pollution of idols (Acts 15-20).
I do not want to stop the fun. Just like many of us, I like street dancing, too. Just like you, I am also a Catholic. “The only way to worship God is to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Please, don’t get me wrong. “Hala bira! Puera Pasma!”
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 29, 2013.