WHILE many took shelter from the drizzle brought by tropical depression Auring yesterday, Stephanie Alberca braved the rain she called a “shower of blessings” instead of a brewing storm.

The 17-year-old was one of the 68 dancers of Hugpong Kabatan-unan sa Sapangdaku who competed in this year’s Sinulog sa Barangay held at the Cebu City Sports Center yesterday.

“Although it was raining and the stage was slippery, I wasn’t nervous. More than dancing, we were praying for Señor Sto. Niño to bless us. The rain was the answer to our prayers,” she told Sun.Star Cebu in Cebuano.

She said the challenges they had to encounter, such as their festival queen not making it on time for the street dancing competition and the late arrival of their instrumentalists, made her pray harder.

A few hours later, water was streaming on the dancers’ faces. Only this time, it wasn’t from the drizzle, but from tears as they were announced as the fifth placer in the ritual showdown.

Hope

Sapangdaku’s presentation started with a married couple who did not lose hope that one day, they will be blessed with a child.

Not long after their pilgrimage, the Holy Child Jesus answered their prayer.

Grateful for their blessing, the new parents taught their daughter to be God-fearing like them.

Alberca said their concept touched her heart as it reminded her of how her own parents also prayed for her from Sto. Niño.

“When I was dancing, even if there were many faces in the crowd, the image of my parents came to my mind. I may be their blessing, but I think I’m the one who’s blessed,” she said.

The concept of the performance was inspired by the many families in today’s society, said Niño Cerita, Sapangdaku’s choreographer.

“Many families take for granted their children, but little do they know that there are also many out there who pray for kids. What we were trying to bring out there is that the family, as the basic unit of the community, should be strengthened through faith,” he said in a separate interview.

With very little financial help to join the competition, Cerita said they did not expect to bring home a trophy, and were only after the experience.

When the activity ended, the dancers, mostly kids in their teens, were heard chanting the name of a local fastfood chain, calling for a celebration.

“We will definitely celebrate together as one family. This family has inspired us all,” Cerita said.

Joshua Bandico, a 17-year-old dancer from Banay Labangon, also credited his teammates and family for inspiring him to dance.

He said this fueled his passion and determination to help the team bag the grand prize again. The last time Labangon won Best in Ritual Showdown was in 2009.

“Most kids my age have their significant others as their inspiration. Mine will always be my family and this team. I hope people won’t forget about putting family and God in their hearts,” Bandico said.

Banay Labangon focused their presentation on forgiveness and acceptance of family despite a tragedy.

They bested all the other eight contingents, including contest veteran Lumad Basakanon of Basak San Nicolas, who placed second.