BUENA PARK, California - Kababayans in the United States are keeping the tradition of honoring the Sto. Niño alive through the annual Sinulog festival.
"Whenever you pray to him and ask for something, he grants it,” devotee Eva Ong said. “We're devoted to him.”
While Cebu has celebrated the Sinulog festival for nearly 500 years, the Filipino community in Orange County has been celebrating theirs for 20 years.
“It’s a tradition from Cebu and we’re from Visayas and we carry the tradition here to the United States,” Tessie Siongco of the local Santo Nino group said.
The tradition has strong roots in the Visayas region which was rocked by a series of disasters last year, so protection and rehabilitation were among the most common prayer requests.
Many brought their statues--from pocket to infant size--to the Mass celebrated by Bishop Oscar Solis and to the procession where in 21 doves were released as a symbol of peace.
The Bane family brought a real life "Santo Niño."
Six-year-old Jonathan dresses up as Santo Niño for the occasion each year.
“Being able to participate in an event like this really enforces his Filipino heritage for him. As he gets bigger and bigger, I hope he can remember this,” his mother Minmin said.