Faith in Sto. Niño helps Cebuanos

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Saturday, January 18, 2014


CEBU CITY -- The Cebuanos’ faith in the Sto. Niño keeps them positive amid crises and motivates them to become responsible voters and proactive citizens, a study by the Department of Political Science of the University of San Carlos (USC) shows.

The study also reveals that good health and financial blessings top the petitions of the devotees.

USC researchers asked 1,404 randomly selected residents from 80 barangays in Cebu City to answer a questionnaire, to find out how the Cebuanos’ faith in Sto. Niño affects their political behavior.

Titled “Sinulog and Politics,” the study was conducted from December 21, 2013 to January 10, 2014.

“Pope Francis said that a Catholic should not say no to politics,” said USC Department of Political Science chair Grace Magalzo. “That motivated us to conduct the study and establish that spirituality and politics are not contradicting.”

To the question of how their faith contributed to their political transformation, 57.69 percent of the respondents said they are able to maintain a positive disposition despite the many crises affecting the country; 11.85 percent believe their faith has influenced them to become responsible voters; and 9.11 percent said their faith has motivated them to become proactive citizens.

Others said faith in Sto. Niño encourages volunteerism and hard work.

The study also shows that most Cebuanos pray for their country and for politicians.

Majority of the respondents also said they never blamed God for the problems besetting the country.

What they seek

Most devotees believe in political change and consider themselves as part of the community.

Most devotees prayed for their family’s welfare above anything else. The family is followed by prayers for one’s self, the country, the community and the world.

Good health tops the petitions of the Cebuanos, followed by financial blessings, peace and order, absence of calamities and comfortable living. Most devotees believe the Sto. Niño will grant their petitions.

Most of the respondents believe the nature of the Sinulog celebration is religious (71.58 percent). For others, Sinulog is cultural (17.45 percent), commercial (2.71), political (2.49 percent) and social (3.06 percent).

Most devotees also agree that politicians participate in the celebration and believe that the government should allocate a specific budget for Sinulog.

Community spirit

Only one percent of the respondents were not Roman Catholic. Most are female; 50 years old and above; high school graduates; and earn less than P10,000 a month. Majority have been a devotee of the Sto. Niño for 21 years and above.

“Faith teaches Cebuanos to think and feel that they are members of a much larger community, other than their own,” the study observed.

It also concluded that Cebu “demonstrates how faith remains to be a very crucial factor in the shaping of the conscious ‘political self’ in the Philippines.”

The research’s margin of error is 2.5 percent.

Voting responsibly because of their faith, as the study suggests, may explain why Cebuanos are known to be “intelligent voters,” said Magalzo.

“Faith allows Cebuanos to be better citizens,” she said.

Dr. Resil Mojares said he believes the Sinulog and devotion to Señor Sto. Niño will live on even with the advancement of technology and with some politicians trying to share the limelight.

The historian served as the keynote speaker at the forum where the “Sinulog and Politics Research Survey” was presented.

Dancing

Mojares did not mention names during his presentation, when he observed that some politicians try the steal the limelight from the Sto. Niño during the Sinulog parade.

He later clarified he wasn’t singling out former Cebu governor and now Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu Province, 3rd district), whose name came up among some members of the audience.

“Governor Garcia is not the first nor the last to capitalize on the festival,” Mojares said.

During her nine-year term, the former governor danced in every Sinulog, joining contingents from the Province or a chosen town. She had said it was her way of offering thanks.

Dr. Mojares pointed out that in his research, the earliest reference to the Sinulog appeared in 1899, more than 80 years before the Sinulog was formally organized as an annual festival, with both religious and cultural events.

A filmmaker asked Mojares how the devotion to Sto. Niño can be sustained amid advancements in technology, citing how religion appears to dwindle the more a nation advances.

“There are also social realities that are not going away soon like poverty and calamities, and these fuel the necessity for religion. Can you even imagine Cebu being one of those leading cities?” said Mojares.

He said he doesn’t see the devotion to the Sto. Niño in the Philippines declining soon. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 18, 2014.

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