CANDLE sellers doing business inside and outside the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño are hopeful that their income will return to pre-pandemic levels now that physical activities related to the Fiesta Señor are back.

Emelia Cabaluna, 68, a candle vendor from Carcar City, said she had been selling candles and offering the traditional “Sinulog” dance for devotees for 30 years.

Her work has helped in providing for her 13 children.

But when the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic began, Cabaluna, like so many other candle sellers like her, had to temporarily quit their gig at the Basilica due to the strict quarantine measures.

Cabaluna told SunStar Cebu that in order to provide for her children, she was forced to return to her hometown in General Santos City to work there.

Before the pandemic, Cabaluna said she earned around P1,000 from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. just by selling candles and prayers to devotees.

Because of her work, Cabaluna said, she has encountered various people with different petitions to the Sto. Niño.

Cabaluna said she often encounters students who ask her to pray that they will pass the board exams or get good grades.

She also encounters couples who ask her to pray to Sto. Niño so that they can successfully conceive.

Cabaluna and candle sellers like her offer candles and a traditional dance to the Holy Child for P10, a small price to pay for a life-changing moment.

Though she prays and dances for a living, Cabaluna also continues to pray to the Sto. Niño that she and her family will recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.

She also prays that the Sto. Niño will give her the strength to continue working for her children.

To see again

Aside from Cabaluna, Irine Casiba, 50, of Barangay Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City, continues to work as a candle seller at the Basilica even though she recently lost her sight.

Casiba, a candle vendor for 15 years, said despite her ailment, she continues to be at the Basilica to give thanks to the Sto. Niño.

Casiba claimed it was the Sto. Niño who saved her when a complicated pregnancy almost claimed her life.

A single mother, Casiba said she continues to seek guidance from the Sto. Niño to help her as she raises her only son, who is currently a Grade 11 student.


For Fortunata Udto, 68, from Barangay Labangon, Cebu City, the resumption of Fiesta Señor’s physical activities was also a chance for her to settle her debts, particularly the remaining balance on the payments of her property and to complete her still unfinished house.

Udto, who has been a candle seller at the Basilica for almost 44 years, prays that the Sto. Niño will guide her family, particularly her children and grandchildren, to have a harmonious relationship and love one another.