This is the usual sight and sound one will see and hear just outside the main portal of the church, at the patio, in the town where I temporarily live. The Catholic community of the town is eagerly participating in the novena in preparation for and in celebration of the Feast of Sto. Niño, the feast honoring the Holy Child, certainly one of the more famous feasts in the Catholic liturgical calendar in the Philippines. In fact, cultural festivals are held to celebrate this religious feast. And some friends I have known here enthused that there would be more dancing and glees come the day of the feast itself. Should I look forward to it? I reckon I should, if only to witness how people find joy in their faith, hopefully.
And this brings me to recall some of the best lessons and discussions we had when I was still doing my Tradition and Magisterium class at the Loyola School of Theology, under Fr. Danny Huang, a very intelligent and friendly Jesuit. No, I will not be theologising highly in this article. There may be another time and space for it. But I will focus more on how the feast affects people’s lives, and faith, as I see it through an outsider’s lens. The songs, especially the gozos, and the concluding hymn of the Eucharistic celebration speak of the people’s faith and undying belief in the protective and providing presence of God manifested in the little child.