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Pinoys abroad celebrate 'Sinulog'

Filipinos abroad celebrated the "Sinulog," the famous Cebuano feast held in honor of the Santo Niño (Holy Child Jesus) every January. According to the Sinulog Festival website, the Sinulog is "one of the grandest and most colorful festivals in the Philippines." "The main festival is held each year on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City to honor the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus, who used to be the patron saint of the whole province of Cebu (since in the Catholic faith Jesus is not a saint, but God)," the website said. "It is essentially a dance ritual which remembers the Filipino people’s pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity," it added. In Germany, Philippine Embassy officials and staff and various Filipino communities participated in the Sinulog at the Heilig-Geist-Kirche in Bayernallee, Berlin. The afternoon celebration began with a Mass and a blessing of Santo Niño images by Filipino chaplain, Fr. Simon Boiser, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday. More than 200 well-wishers participated in the colorful program prepared by Rose Glass, president of the Santo Niño devotees in Berlin. The program included a "reenactment" of the coming of the Spaniards led by explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who handed over the Santo Niño to Cebu's Rajah Humabon's wife Hara Amihan, later named Queen Juana. After the Mass, Philippine Ambassador to Germany Maria Cleofe Natividad noted the "Sinulog" is a "fusion of Filipino culture and faith." Then came the  lively Sinulog dances where women danced while holding replicas of the Sto. Niño and shouting "Viva Senor Sto. Nino!" "While Sinulog is a pagan practice worshipping native idols, it has embraced the Catholic faith, devotion and reverence to the Santo Niño. And while the belief in the Santo Niño came from the West, which has fused in with the paganistic practice of the East, Sinulog has evolved into what forms part of the current Filipino people culture," she said. She said other signs of the influence of Europe on the Sinulog are the coat of arms of the Santo Niño, which bears a two-headed hawk, the mark of the Hapsburg empire, and the emblem on Magellan's flag of the two-headed hawk symbolizing Spain as "Champion of Catholicism and Defender of Faith." "The Sinulog is our faith, and our deep reverence for the Santo Niño is a reflection of the child-like, all-trusting trust of the Filipinos in God," said Natividad. Sinulog in Macau, Australia   Meanwhile, Filipinos in Macau and Australia also held a Sinulog parade to honor the Santo Niño (Christ Child).   In Macau, six contingents joined the Sinulog street dance that marked the Filipinos' conversion to Christianity, the DFA said.   "The Sinulog festival in Macau SAR is considered as the grandest festival organized by the Filipino community in the territory. It is also the only Filipino cultural event that enjoys the support of the Macau Tourist Office, the Cultural Affairs Bureau, and the Municipal Affairs Bureau, and is listed as one of the tourist and cultural attractions in Macau for the month of January," it added.   In Australia, some 1,000 Filipinos and Australian guests participated in the Masses and processions of the image of the Sto. Niño in the cities of Campbelltown and Blacktown on January 15.   In Campbelltown, Fr. Patrick Vaughan concelebrated the mass with Fr. Michael Healey at the St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.   This was followed by a procession of the image of the Sto. Niño, a fellowship lunch, and a cultural presentation.   Campbelltown City Mayor Anoulak Chantivong likewise joined the Filipino community in the celebration.   Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis congratulated the Sto. Niño Association of Macarthur Region and the Cofradia de Sto. Niño for their efforts in keeping the tradition of commemorating the feast of the Sto. Niño alive.   She encouraged the Filipino community members to remain true and to be inspired by this religious tradition.   "The Australian public officials who were present at both venues lauded the Filipino community for imparting good values through the observance of religious festivities. They noted that this is only one among many contributions of the Filipino community to multicultural Australia," the DFA said. - RJMD/VVP, GMA News