Millions walk to show love, faith, and devotion to the Child King

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Solemn Foot Procession on Sinulog 2020
Millions of Santo Niño devotees flock the streets of Cebu City for the Solemn Foot Procession during the week-long Sinulog 2020 celebration. (All Photos by Alren Beronio.)

If you’re a tourist wondering why some of Cebu City’s streets are closed and traffic is heavier than usual a day before the Sinulog celebration itself, ask the 500-year-old “kid” who had to make His annual rounds.

Encased in a bullet-proof glass carriage, the Señor Santo Niño yesterday led millions of devotees in the annual Solemn Foot Procession that lasted for five hours.

The Child King, in his red and gold robes, roamed the main streets of Cebu City in a six-kilometer route that passes through residential and commercial areas, where people taking out their candle-lit altars wait in the streets to witness His presence.

The original Sto. Niño during the Solemn Foot Procession in Cebu City.
The 500-year-old Santo Niño image encased in a bullet-proof glass carroza roams the streets of Cebu City a day before the actual Sinulog festival. (Photo by Alren Beronio)

Behind Him are the faithful carrying their own image of the Holy Child. They walk solemnly in prayer, enduring the heat and the dust on the streets. As if on cue, they raise and wave their hands together in left to right motion as they sing Bato Balani sa Gugma, a hymn of love to the Santo Niño.

Devotees will attest that the mere sight of the Child Jesus inside the 20-foot carroza can bring goosebumps, tears, and even healing.

Some would even say that Santo Niño’s parade is like blessing the streets for the festival dancers and revelers of the Sinulog the following day.

Mass at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.
The Solemn Foot Procession ends with a mass at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. (Photo by Alren Beronio)

Also called the Penitential Walk for Santo Niño, the procession is reported to draw in more crowds to the streets than the actual day of the festival.

Truth be told, most Cebuanos really don’t flock the streets to watch the Sinulog. They would rather stay at home and turn on the TV or at this age, tune in to social media live streams to watch the street dance while hosting and entertaining visitors in their homes with a feast of Lechon and other popular Cebuano dishes.

Yes, they do hit the streets on Sinulog day itself but only to go to mass at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, then briefly watch the dancing contingents on the streets, and get a glimpse of celebrities atop gigantic floats during the parade.

Cebuanos would rather give way to tourists during the Sinulog celebration but not during the procession when the streets are reserved for the Santo Niño.

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