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CEBU, Philippines – Often missed by tourists who flock to the city for the Sinulog Mardi Gras and the street parties, it is perhaps the solemn procession of the Sto. Niño de Cebu that reflects the traditional reason for the Sinulog celebration, and the meaning of the expression, “Pit Señor!”
“Pit Señor” is the short form of “Sangpit sa Señor,” a phrase in Cebuano that means, “to call, ask, and plead to the king.” This call for help brings believers together in the crowded streets of Cebu every third Sunday of January.
For Cebu City residents, January is one of the busiest months. Barely two weeks after the New Year celebrations, activities in observance of the feast of the Sto. Niño kick off. They start with the novena masses, 9 days before the feast day, attracting pilgrims into the city, and creating a crowded yet festive atmosphere in the streets of Cebu.
Visible along the major roads of the city are attractive Sinulog installations such as colorful buntings and arches sponsored by private companies.
When I was younger, I always looked forward to passing along the decorated streets at night. As a child, Sinulog, to me, meant bright lights, street dancing, and extravagant floats and arches.
It was when I got a little older that I began to understand the relevance of the Sinulog celebration and what shouting “Pit Señor!” really meant. My grandmother and aunts told me stories about the miraculous Sto. Niño. I still remember the story of a fisherman who could have drowned had he not been rescued by the Sto. Niño, which took the form of a child. I was told a priest found the original statue with sand stuck on its feet. I am sure there are other versions of this story.
The stories—passed on from one generation to the next—fuel the hope of millions of devotees and encourage them to join the procession the day before the Sinulog Mardi Gras.
Some travel in the most inconvenient ways, braving rough seas and enduring cramped bus rides, to ask for favors such as healing of severely sick relatives or a life out of poverty.
Others fly in from different parts of the world to give thanks and fulfill their promise to come back if their wishes were granted.
While I remain skeptical about tales of the Sto. Niño’s apparition or human transformation, I believe it is important to acknowledge the reason behind the tradition amid the festivities of modern times. – Rappler.com