CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Sto. Niño makes top draw in Choi Hung

HONG KONG (SE): A Sinulog festival was held at Holy Family parish in Choi Hung for the third time on January 17.

Organised by the Sto. Niño Crusaders Group, the festival kicked off with a parade around Choi Hung Estate, in which nine communities from the parish danced their way around the extensive housing area to the haunting rhythm of drums while holding images of the Sto. Niño aloft.

Some wore the costume of Queen Juana, while others played the part of local people, holding candles or flowers in welcome for the arrival of Christianity on the shores of The Philippines.

The parade was followed by a Sto. Niño novena led by Filma Talaboc and an opening prayer led by Father James Areechira.

Melanie Ardiente, the coordinator of Sto. Niño Crusaders Group, gave a short history of the Sinulog, saying that it commemorates the acceptance of Christianity by the Filipino people when Ferdinand Magellan presented the image of the child Jesus as a baptismal gift to the wife of the rajah of Mactan, Amihan (Humamay). Amihan’s name was then changed to Juana.

It is said that the queen danced with joy at the moment she received the gift from the Portuguese explorer. This moment is regarded as the first Sinulog, a word that comes from the Cebuano adverb, sulog, which roughly translates as like the movement of a water current.

Ardiente told the Sunday Examiner that the festival at Holy Family has become well-established as an annual event and has won good support from the community.

She explained that it started in 2014 with simple presentations of the age-old dance. But this year, the event included contests in three categories: street parade and Sinulog dancing, as well as the search for the festival queen.

The nine contesting groups brought the day to a climax by presenting their renditions of the Sinulog and depicting its history.

This was followed by a queen festival in which the dancers depicting Queen Juana were invited to make solo presentations.

Christ Our Hope and Life Group came out the big winner on the day, as it bagged the prizes for the street parade, as well as the queen festival. The group was also declared champion of the Sinulog festival for its presentation of the joy of Queen Juana embracing Christianity after receiving the image of the Sto. Niño from Magellan.

Michelle Borromeo played the part of Queen Juana and Belinda Parreñas that of the foreign bearer of the faith.

Borromeo said that like Queen Juana, she felt overwhelmed at holding the image of Sto. Niño. Coming from Bacolod City, she said she used to go to Iloilo City to join the Sinulog festival every year. However, it was the first time she had played the role of Queen Juana.

Maricor Guanco, who together with Jocelyn Ortiz made the colourful costumes for the dancers in her group, described the prize as the fruit of the work of all those who took part in the preparation, including the choreographer and the prop designers.

Love of God Prayer Group was the first runner up, while the Disciple for Christ Group came third.

Elsie Ramos, who comes from the city of Dasmariñas in Cavite, where the Sinulog is not celebrated, said the annual event at Holy Family has a special meaning for her, as she had never imagined that she could celebrate the Sinulog festival overseas in Hong Kong, which she could not do at home in The Philippines.


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