Pacete: Sto. Niño de Silay: the faith of children

FOR His love of mankind, God sent His son to earth to be a role model. We first knew the Son as the Child Jesus. It was easy for us to accept Him because He was a Child. Reasoning with a child is fine if you can reach the child’s reason without destroying your own.

The celebration of the Sto. Niño de Silay started four years ago (as a patron saint). The image is always there … and there came a time that the enthusiasm of faith should be started. Marby Golez brought up the idea to Fr. Jonas Sumagaysay and the priest gave a “Go!” So, Marby became the first “Hermana Mayor.” The official celebration was a part of the “liturgical ritual” within the mass.

I was consulted as tourism officer (then) and I told the core group that I will promote it but I suggested that there should be no duplication of “Ati-atihan,” “Sinulog,” “Dinagsa” and “Dinagyang.” The cultural significance should be anchored on the awareness of faith of the Silaynons. When Silay was established as a “pueblo” (town) and a parish in 1772, there were no “Atis” in the community.

When the “haciendas” were properly established in 1840, we simply had a development of cultural diversity or multiplicity because the Iloilo people brought their lifestyle in Negros. We were into pluralism, multiculturalism, and acculturation. The “religiosity” of the Buena familias” in Iloilo found a fertile ground in the Parish of San Diego de Alcala under parish priest Fr. Eusebio Locsin.

The church managed by Locsin found a favorable support from his relatives and friends from Iloilo who later became the “hacendados” and “hacenderos” of Silay and the other “pueblos” in Negros. Each “Buena familia” has a patron saint protector. (I don’t want to explain that. That is not my playing field and I may sound “boring.”)

Sto. Niño celebration in all places has its focus on the Child Jesus, the so-called “rain god” of the early Cebuanos, a “miracle image” from the sky for the natives of Ilog (not of Kabankalan) during the Moro pirate raids, the faith based on folklore for the ancestors of the people of Aklan perceived to be “Atis,” and the legendary “Dinagsa” (of whales in Cadiz and also of their traditional culture).

All these have put the Sto. Niño in the center of their life. There is that “devotion” or a “panaad” (promise made) that only the devotees could feel although many of them cannot explain. If you can’t explain it, it’s faith. When something good happens, that’s miracle. The Roman Catholic Church (the priests) do not have a serious explanation on that because when it gets deeper … that might be “biblical.” Leave it as it is.

In Silay, we call the celebration (dances) as “Children’s Merrymaking of Faith for the Child Jesus.” We want to see the children dance for the Child-God. It takes children to understand other children. This year’s “hermana mayor” Julieta “Pakha” Guadarrama has been assisted by her friends and “manangs” of the church to gather seven groups of children to do a dance for Sto. Niño at the covered court of the plaza (January 21, 2018).

The dances were thanksgiving and praise dances for the celebrator. We made it clear that the pictures, images, statues and other replicas of the Sto. Niño are “visual aids” only to remind us. We don’t need to kiss them and hail them as divine. The Catholic Church is teaching us that there is only one Almighty God, a Spirit. If we go beyond that, that is already paganism and it is dangerous.

All the images have no therapeutic effect. Let’s get away with mental illusion that the image is having green tears, or somebody’s Sto. Niño image pet is getting taller and heavier every year. That is phantasmagoric. Belief in God is easy as long as you don’t explain Him.

Leave the explanation to the priests.

Silaynons are thankful to the Sto. Niño for giving Silay the opportunity to work out for their total human growth and development. God gave Silay fertile land and Silaynons pray hard that the “hacenderos” will share their blessings in terms of year-end bonuses, maximum salary, and human treatment to their laborers. Silaynons thank God for the establishment of many department stores and hope that their commodities will be at reasonable price.

Silaynons always pray to the Sto. Niño that they will always be given leaders who are not immoral, cruel, greedy and corrupt. They always look forward for peace, unity, and prosperity. They, too, pray for orderly and honest election and hope that the national leaders will have their “Build, Build, Build Projects” in Silay to boost the economy of the city and provide employment. “Viva Sto. Niño!”
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