By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
For more than 50 years, the Catholic Church has been intensifying its efforts to strengthen the devotion of Ilonggos to Señor Sto. Niño (Holy Child Jesus) by staging religious activities in the annual Dinagyang Festival.
Fr. Raymundo Edsel Alcayaga, parish priest of San Jose Placer Church in Plaza Libertad, said he hopes that the public and tribes will also do their share in helping preserve the religious elements of the festival.
Alcayaga appealed to the dancers and spectators to treat the images of Sto. Niño as sacred by handling them with utmost respect.
“Ginatinguhaan naton nga ma-preserve gihapon ang mga religious elements sa festival which is the devotion to the Sto. Niño so tani ang mga dancers and the public nga gauyat sang Sto. Nino in case may dancing tani nga ma-amlig ang pagkapot kag medyo tipigan,” he said in a press conference Wednesday.
Alcayaga also reminded the spectators to properly dispose of the images and pictures of the Sto. Niño.
“Amo na ga-appeal man kami to dispose properly the image and pictures of Sr. Sto. Niño na may ara gihapon paghalong and pagrespeto. Ang images kon pwede indi lang tani siya pagihaboy sa basura kag ilubong na lang sa duta,” he said.
Alcayaga also reminded the public to make time and focus on the religious sadsad or dancing on the eve of the feast of Sto. Niño on January 25, 2020.
Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI) President Atty. Jobert Peñaflorida said no other side events will be held on the dates of the three religious events organized by the San Jose church – the religious sadsad, the fluvial procession, and the solemn foot parade.
The exclusive scheduling is meant to focus public attention to the three religious activities.
“In previous years, dungan ang floats parade with the religious sadsad but subong ginpangayo gid ni father indi pagdugangan so all events sa simbahan wala sang simultaneous event,” he said.
It was 1967 when a replica of the image of the Santo Niño was brought from Cebu City to San Jose Parish Church in Iloilo City and inspired the staging of the Dinagyang Festival.
The devotees of the Holy Child Jesus both from Iloilo and Cebu celebrated the arrival of the image with dancing, chanting, and praying.
Through the years, the revelry was continued and became popularly known as the religious sadsad.
For Dinagyang 2020, the Fluvial and Solemn Foot Procession will be held on Jan. 24 at 3 p.m. from Iloilo River to the San Jose Church.
Meanwhile, the religious sadsad will start with a mass on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. and end with a fireworks display at 9 p.m.