2022 Santo Niño festival scaled down, but still popular

A statue of the Santo Niño, with devotees in the background, at St Patrick’s Cathedral 
in Auckland.

Devotees of the Santo Nino in Auckland had a toned down but meaningful celebration of the feast of the Holy Child Jesus this year. 

Oscar and Miriam Batucan, founder and organisers of the NZ Filipino Devotees of the Senyor Sto. Niño, said that the feast day was celebrated with a Mass at the St Patrick’s Cathedral on January 15. The celebration was usually held at the Eventfinda Stadium, as attendance would normally exceed 5000. 

“We had the Santo Nino Fiesta . . . at St Patrick’s Cathedral, thinking that it will be easier to manage Vaccine Pass Verifications and QR Code tracing, knowing it will be held in a smaller venue compared to Eventfinda Stadium,” Mr Batucan said. 

A nine-day novena from January 6-14 was also held at the cathedral. 

“Initially we thought we would not get a good attendance or participation because people were still worried [about] the Delta virus, even though we were already in [the] Orange traffic light setting of the Covid Protection Framework since the 31st of December 2021,” Mrs Batucan said.  

“To our amazement, the church pews were full each night, and people were still doing the Sinulog dance offering after Mass each night, even if it meant they had to stay at their pews.” 

The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Michael Gielen. Devotees packed the cathedral and spilled outside to the cathedral square. 

Mr Batucan said they had to strictly implement the “No Vaccine Pass – No Entry” rule. 

“We were so happy to see all our kababayans (countrymen) follow the protocol without any hesitancy or resistance. It is because they already have the devotion to Santo Nino ingrained in their hearts since their childhood days,” he added. 

Mr Batucan said they deferred the Santo Nino@500 Thanksgiving Sinulog Celebration to May 1, 2022. This will be held at the Eventfinda Stadium. 

The main theme of that celebration will be “Thanksgiving for the faith received 500 Years ago and fulfilling the obligation of being called to share”. 



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Rowena Orejana

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