Cebu is the first home of the Augustinians. It is where they had founded many churches on the South-eastern part of Cebu. According to historians, the churches built by the Augustinians Cebu are all unique. All of them are facing the East, which has symbolic meaning in the medieval world. It is facing the east because it is where the sun rises and at the same as reminder of the unending cycle of Jesus’ resurrection every morning.
A few days after the feast of the Sto. Niño de Cebu every Third Sunday of January, the so-called “Hubo” (a Cebuano term meaning “naked”) ritual takes place during the early morning celebration of the Holy Mass, marking the end of the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. Seen from the outside, it appears as a simple rite of undressing, bathing and redressing the image of the Holy Child. The icon is stripped of its elaborate festive garments, washed, and dressed with a simpler garb.
Perhaps for many devotees flocking to the city of Cebu for the Sinulog Festivel, Hubo is only a symbolic re-enactment of something which takes place in their home every single day: a mother or a father or some adult bathing a child either at the start of the day so as to prepare him/her for the day’s activities or at the end of it to wash away all the dirt that the child’s body has accumulated throughout the day. And we surmise and muse on thinking that the Sto. Niño image must have accumulated a similar amount of dirt during the almost two-week long celebration in his honor and, thus, needs such a washing up!
Santo Niño and the Dawn of Christian Faith in the Philippines
(the 450thYEAR OF THE FINDING OF THE IMAGE OF THE SANTO NIÑO DE CEBU [1565-2015], the 450 YEARS OF PRESENCE OF THE AUGUSTINIANS IN THE PHILIPPINES [1565-2015], and the 50TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE SANTO NIÑO CHURCH AS BASILICA MINORE [1965-2015])
The Santo Niño icon of Cebu is historically recognized as the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. Itsorigin is traced from the celebrated voyage of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 which accidentally “discovered” and claimed the islands for the Spanish Monarchy. The historic arrival was purely uncalculated for the fleet did not intend to sail directly to the Philippines. The land of the spices, particularly the highly-contested Moluccas, was the expedition’s targetdestination. The armada reached the islands after it was driven away by strong winds from the original routewhich eventually brought them to the island of Cebu. The preliminary encounters that followed forged conditional alliancesand the accompanying ceremonials took place including the introduction of the Christian faith. Initial attempt to evangelize the indigenous people of Cebu was accomplished with the hasty acceptance of the Christian faith by King Humabon and his subjects numbering around 800. The Santo Niño image was given to Queen Juana upon her ardent wish to have it in place of her local deities. The baptized indigenous people did not flourish in their practice of faith mainly due to the untimely demise of Magellan (including the chaplain Fr. Pedro Valderrama) and the eventual return of the surviving contingent to Spain. Also attributable to the absence of deeper instruction, the baptismal rite was misconstrued by the locals as a customary ritual of friendship rather than a spiritual initiation. After the interruption of forty-four (44) years, the Legazpi-Urdaneta Expedition arrived in Cebu. On April 28, 1565, the dramatic yet providential discovery (pagkakaplag) of the same wooden image in a partially scorched hut started the distinctive Christian heritage of the Philippines. The Augustinians who accompanied the journey commenced the systematic evangelization and Christianization of the islands. The subsequent foundation of the Church and Convent of the Augustinians rose on the actual site where the statuette was found. It became the central house of the Augustinians, the mother church in the Philippine Islands. The establishment of organic settlements and mission areas followed instantaneously and the pioneering evangelization gradually prospered in geographical reach and ecclesial organization despite the scarcity of missionaries. Additional religious orders were commissioned to the Philippines in successive intervals: Franciscans (1578), Jesuits (1581), Dominicans (1587), and Augustinian Recollects (1606). Their ground-breaking missionary endeavours contributed to the Philippine identity as a predominantly Christian nation.
The first Church and Convent dedicated to Santo Niño developed into a principalhouse of the Augustinian friars mainly in the spiritual and missionary formation, and the promotion of the devotion to the Holy Child – theadored patron, protector and inspiration. As a consequence, the Santo Niño Church grew in popularity throughout the islands both in magnificence and significance as the cradle of Philippine Christianity, and the perpetual sanctuary of the Santo Niño of Cebu. In recognition of the historical, religious and cultural importance of the Santo Niño Church and the sacred relic it keeps, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) petitioned Pope Paul VI in 1964 to confer on the Santo Niño Church the title “Basilica Minore” in time for the Fourth Centennial of the Christianization of the Philippines in 1965.The Santo Niño icon was also canonically crowned by the Papal LegateIldebrando Cardinal Antoniutti – a solemn gesture of singular honor reserved to the beloved Santo Niño. In its entirety, the Fourth Centennial Celebration overwhelmingly succeeded in engaging the entire nation, thus renewing “The Philippines for Christ” in faith, commitment and enthusiasm to live out the Gospel message. Continue reading “450 YEARS OF PRESENCE OF THE AUGUSTINIANS IN THE PHILIPPINES”→
Father Fernando Lopez, Minglanilla’s first parish priest, is credited as the founder of the town in 1858. Nicolas Lopez, Miguel de Burgo and Jose Alonso worked together in the construction of the church and the cemetery. It roads and bridges were built by the same Fr. Lopez together with Fr. Magaz.
There were a number of capitanes whi headed the town during the Spanish era. The first capitan was Hilario Castañares. During the American regime when the town headsman was called president, the first to serve as such was Canuto Larrobis. The first to be elected municipal mayor was Gregorio de la Calzada.
Of all Cebu?s churches, it is the church in Boljoon which best gives one a sense of the Philippine colonial past. The church of Boljoon is the oldest remaining original stone church in Cebu and is relatively well-preserved. It was declared for conservation and restoration in 1998.