Sto. Niño devotee wins $217-M suit in US

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Oct 21 2010 05:43 PM | Updated as of Oct 22 2010 01:43 AM

...and gives thanks by helping build Sto. Niño shrine in Florida

TAMPA, Florida - The Cebuanos' strong faith and devotion to the Sto. Niño or the Holy Child of Cebu is summed up by a newly built Sto. Niño Shrine at the St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida.

Filipinos claim it’s the first and the only Sto. Niño shrine in the whole US.

“People can come and see the Sto Niño and make it a prayer… make it their garden of prayer and reflection,” said Maria Raffinan, president of the Sto. Niño Shrine USA.

The shrine was the result of some 20 years of community fundraising.

“This family was just used by God in order to build this shrine. They are the ones who are doing this, if not for them, this is not going to happen. God Bless this family,” said Tampa resident Thelma Edar-Mix said,

Made of Santol Tree wood, the Sto. Niño image came all the way from Cebu and was especially carved for the shrine.

Filipinos here also believe the Sto. Niño is miraculous.

The US$217-M Miracle

Susan Bilbao’s brother is former Philippine pro basketball player Allan Navarro. Bilbao claims their faith in the Sto. Niño not only kept his brother alive but brought him justice as well.

In 2000, Navarro had early signs of stroke and was misdiagnosed. Navarro was in a coma for 3 months, but his family claims after praying hard to the Sto. Nino, Navarro miraculously recovered.

“He is the healer, the master healer, and the divine physician, so we know, we really credit him for that: it’s the Santo Niño that helped my brother, came back to life again,” said Navarro’s sister, Susan Bilbao.

Navarro later sued the hospital and won Florida’s highest ever malpractice award for $217 million in 2006.

The family reportedly settled for less than the verdict amount and Navarro is believed to have donated a big undisclosed amount of money for the completion of the shrine as his way of thanking the Sto. Niño.

“Always pray to the Sto. Niño, because he’s always going to help you, whether you like it or not, he will always be there with us,” said St. Petersburg resident Gloria Ignacio.

Construction began in February this year and the shrine is 90% done. The Sto. Niño Shrine is set to open to the public by the end of the month. Balitang America