CEBU, Philippines — The devotion to the Santo Niño de Cebu proves that it goes beyond the boundaries of its home island.
The Siano clan from Maasin City, Southern Leyte, who has professed devotion to the Santo Niño or the Child Jesus, has been practicing its religious traditions in venerating the Holy image that was passed from older generations.
Clan members continuously implored the Holy child for supplications in times of need.
Such as recently, a member inflicted with a breast ailment tested the family’s faith.
Eutiquia Siano, 72, told The FREEMAN that the family sought medical help in one of Cebu City hospitals to have her 80-year-old sister, Corazon, examined and treated.
She said her elder sister, who is the third of nine siblings, has been suffering from a breast ailment that the family discovered only last year since Corazon was already experiencing bleeding.
Doctors at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) had to remove the lump near Corazon’s breast through an operation that was scheduled yesterday.
Fortunately, the breast operation went successful.
Eutiquia said her sister, despite old age, survived the critical operation to which the family has been strongly praying.
To her, it was an “answered prayer.”
But more surprises came to her.
In the afternoon, hours after the operation, she never knew the Santo Niño would come knocking at their hospital room.
The surprised Eutiquia burst in tears while gazing at the image which was walked through inside the hospital.
The VSMMC was the second stop of the five-day pilgrimage of the Santo Niño image. The image visited and stayed at the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) last Friday.
It is also set for transfer to the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital today and at Chong Hua Hospital tomorrow.
The Augustinian fathers spearheading the 454th Fiesta Señor purposely slated the hospital visits and the Cebu City Jail on January 8 to reach out to sick people and the prisoners who cannot visit the Basilica because of their present condition.
Eutiquia, elated by the visit, was only left hoping that they can already return to Maasin before January 15, in time for the clan’s celebration of observing the Santo Niño feast.
Eutiquia shared that her siblings grew knowing of this family tradition that was believed to have been passed down from their forefathers, and to which they taught to their offspring.
Just like in Cebu, she said the family also chooses Hermano and Hermana to lead the celebration and organizes a nine-day novena Mass.
She added that during the feast, all members of the clan from different places would get together to celebrate and to venerate the Holy Child Jesus for always hearing their prayers.
Eutiquia said the family also does not miss the chance of paying homage to the Santo Niño de Cebu image during its voyage to Limasawa Island.
She said when her sister had to undergo chemotherapy since September 2018, her companions always found time to visit the image at its sanctuary at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in downtown Cebu City.
What is actually used during the hospital visits is the pilgrim image or a replica of the original to preserve and protect the latter.
In a welcome Mass during the VSMMC visit, Fr. Celso Magbanua, Jr. said diseases and illnesses that inflict people is not a form of punishing people because of their sins.
He said sick people should be awakened of the truth that whatever adversity they are going through, the Lord will always be with them waiting for people to reach out.
He asked the faithful to pray fervently of what their heart desires because God will always grant them in His time.
During the send-off mass at the CCMC, Rev. Fr. Genesis P. Labana, director of Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino Media Center, extended his gratitude for the Cebu City government’s support in Santo Niño’s visit to the different hospitals in Cebu City.
“Mapasalamaton kaming mga kaparian Agustino nga supportive kaayo ang Cebu City government nga maoy gahan-ay ani tanan sa iyahang (Señor Santo Niño) pagduaw,” Fr. Labana said in his homily at the St. Florian Chapel.
Cebu City Councilor Delos Santos, a Santo Niño devotee herself, expressed her gratitude to the people who helped organize the image’s visit at the CCMC and said she is “hopeful” that through the intercession of the Child Jesus, the new CCMC building will be finished.
“We are very happy that everybody is very faithful about the Señor Sto. Niño. The strength and the hope, especially for the sick, and for the medical team, we are hopeful for the intercession of Señor Sto. Niño that we can finish our new building,” delos Santos said.
She added that her prayers to Señor Santo Niño is for everyone to be “child-like like Him,” and all will have “no anger, no bitterness,” and “keep the faith for the best of Cebu City.”
Delos Santos also told The FREEMAN that the first, second, and third floors of the new CCMC building can already be used, catering services for emergency, out-patients, and diagnostic & dialysis, respectively.
Anton Ivan Yap, who spearheaded the organizers that brought the image of the Santo Niño to the CCMC, said that not only were the patients elated with the Holy Child’s visit, it also gave medical staff of the hospital the strength to carry out their mission.
“Kami mga healthcare workers, makakita mi ni Señor Sto. Niño makahatag sad siya namo og strength to carry out our mission, to help the needy, and the indigents who needs our nursing care,” Yap said.
As the hospital’s second time to welcome the image of the Holy Child, Yap said that he was “satisfied” with how the hospital handled the visit.
“Much better among pagdawat karon na year, kay kabaw nami unsay buhaton, mas nindot among preparation, abundant ta sa flowers and mga mahalon atong gigamit, para halad kang Señor Sto. Niño,” Yap said.
Like Delos Santos, Yap is also hopeful that through their prayers to the Child Jesus, the construction of the new building will be swift for them to cater more patients. — John Kendrick P. Ceciban, USJ-R Intern, GAN (FREEMAN)