CALUBIAN, Leyte, Oct. 23, 2011—The visit of the revered image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu to this municipality drew almost everyone in the community to prayer at the Shrine of St. Therese some three kilometers from the heart of this once-bustling town.
Fr. Tito Soquino, OAR and “caretaker” of the pilgrim image of the Sto. Niño told CBCPNews that people from all walks of life have come together to join the celebration which is a rare occasion among its devotees.
“Political leaders from different political persuasions gathered around the Sto. Niño to give praise and pray, a proof that the Sto. Niño is a ‘batobalani’ or magnet because it would be difficult to gather these personalities to a single occasion,” he said.
Sioquino said it is a blessing that the Augustinians have been “caretakers” for more than 400 years of what he described as the Philippines’ first religious icon.
He explained the image of the child Jesus is an instrument to spread the Gospel not only in the Philippines but throughout the world.
“As the Philippines is in diaspora and everywhere you go, in many places you go, the sinulog is being celebrated and there’s a possibility the sinulog would be the impetus to further spread and revitalize the devotion to the Sto. Niño and the faith of the people, not only in the Philippines but worldwide,” he added.
He said these political leaders, from municipal mayors to local businessmen, professionals and the common ‘tao’ came on their own.
It was probably a manifestation of God’s presence that each one heeded the internal call to actively take part in the activities at the Shrine of St. Therese, the priest said. (Melo Acuna)