Niño to wear his Sunday’s bes

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

CEBU’S beloved little king will be dressed in his Sunday best today, the eve of his feast day.

The centuries-old Sto. Niño image will be wearing his red cape and velvet vestments embroidered with gold lily buds and flowers, a crown bedecked with jewels, a pair of boots and gloves made of gold.

The wooden statue was given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Hara Amihan, who was named Juana after her baptism. The Ecce Homo or the sculpture representing the suffering Christ was given to Rajah Humabon, who was later called Carlos.


Each piece of the garments was hand- sewn by embroiders from Asilo dela Milagrosa, headed by Sally Surabilla, who prepared the design, and were ready as early as the first week of January.

Clothing items included in the official wardrobe are a white velvet alb, similar to that worn by priests, undergarments, red velvet bloomers, and a white undershirt.


There are several layers of undershirt placed on the image, usually given by donors who collect these after one year.

The pieces of clothing are put on the fragile Sto. Niño by a special group of women called the “Camareras” or ladies in waiting.

Ernesto Chua, a heritage researcher, said there are informal requirements for these “stylists” for a thirteen-inch king.

“She has to have the taste. How could you be a camarera if you don't know what's proper and what's not proper to put on a member of royalty?” he said.

Chua said the women usually belong to influential families or sometimes a close friend of Augustinian priests.

“Also, they should be able to identify good worksmanship of the vestments, proper color, quality of the cloth used. Imagine, you are trying to dress up a monarch, a member of royalty,” he added.

Through the years, the women have handed down the position to their children or female relatives.


Chua said one of the camareras was an anthropologist, the late Rosario “Mimi” Trosdal, as was her mother, Guadalupe “Oping” Borromeo-Trosdal.

Mimi was said to have “bequeathed” her position to a student, Astrid Sala Boza.

In a separate interview, Basilica del Sto. Niño spokesperson Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA said the group of women who dress up the image have been present even before the current set of Augustinian friars were assigned in Cebu Province.

“It usually takes half a day to dress up the Sto. Niño because there are prayers recited,” he said.

He added that the ceremony called “Ilis” takes place inside the Basilica rector's room.

“The new robes are used on the original image,” said Soquiño.

The official pilgrim image, which is used for the grand procession held on the eve of the feast day, is dressed with the vestments that the original Sto. Niño wore a year before.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2012.

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