Pista Senyor-A A +A
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
One of my most intimate memories of the Pista Senyor was about going with my late grandmother to the old Santo Niño church when I was just about five years old. This was sometime in the mid-1930s when the devotion to the child Jesus was already popular.
My grandmother was a candle vendor in our town. He went to the Catholic cemetery every Monday to sell candles and said the “rosary of the dead” with those who bought candles from her. She had many suki, and she memorized the prayers, even the Spanish part.
It was many years later, when I was eleven years old and the war with Japan was about to be declared, that I learned that my grandmother was a “no read and no write” person. She never finished the elementary grades. She was the eldest in the family and my great grandmother Macaria depended on her to help in the household chores, including grinding corn grain in the native stone grinder.
The grinder had two flat circular slabs. Both were rough and held together with a mahogany post at the center. When moved, the top slab ground the grains. A wooden arm was connected to a rattan belt around the upper slab to make it go round and round, grinding the grains fed through a hole on the said slab.
It was an ingenious way to ground dried grains to make corn grits of varied sizes--Nos. 10, 11, 12, and 13--for cooking or for selling per ganta. At eight years old, I was a skilled grain feeder to the grinder, cradling a ganta of grains at a time on my lap.
But I have digressed. In those times my grandmother Susana brought me with her to the Sto. Niño church in the city in January of each year to sell candles, I learned all about the Pista Senyor and the Sinulog.
The Sinulog is the dance of the devotees in front of the church to the child Jesus before they light the candles. They shout Pit Senyor! while dancing, calling the name of the child or the person for whom their prayer to Jesus is dedicated. Thus they cry “Pit Senyor, kang Papa kini,” or “Pit Senyor, kang tatay Isko kini.”
And so it went on across the years, with the devotion to the Child Jesus carving a separate and distinct tradition for itself in the consciousness of the Catholic devotees, from children to adults who love the child God.
Today, the Pista Senyor and the Sinulog has have become one big feast. It is Pista Senyor for the church as a religious celebration for the child Jesus. And Sinulog to the public—-a socio-civic tradition that has developed in keeping with the social life of the Christian believers of the New Year as symbol of the renewal of life.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 08, 2013.