Filipino Catholics across the country celebrate the “feast” of the Child Jesus, known as the Santo Niño, every January.
In the village of Bago Bantay in Quezon City in the Philippine capital, devotees perform street dances similar to the traditional Dinagyang, Ati-Atihan, and Sinulog festivals on Jan. 14, 2023, in honor of the Child Jesus.
The devotion of Filipinos, especially people from the central province of Cebu, to the Child Jesus has deep historical roots.
The image of the Santo Niño was brought to the country by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on April 14, 1521, as a gift to Queen Juana of Cebu. She and her husband, Rajah Humabon, and about 800 natives, were baptized, thus establishing Christianity in the country.
In 1565, when Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu, a Spanish soldier found the image inside a burned house of a native. Legazpi then named Cebu as the “City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.”
Today, the image now known as Santo Nino de Cebu, is considered the oldest Christian relic in the country. (Photos by Jire Carreon)