Santo Niño Fiesta fever was all over Palawan last January 19, from the processional tradition of Child Image of Jesus Christ to the colorful tribal Ati-Atihan dance competition was highlighted in the streets of southern Municipality of Sofronio Española, up to rural communities in the north of Barotuan in El Nido.
2020 marks the 59th year of Sto. Niño Parish of Española in celebrating the fiesta. As early as 7 in the morning, Ati-Atihan dancers gathered in the parish to showcase their dancing skills. Out of 5 teams, the defending champion Tribu Iraraynon won again this year’s title.
Fr. Eugene Elivera from Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa is the guest mass celebrant in Española. On his homily, Elivera discussed the values of being a child that we adults should adopt to avoid depression and loneliness. Elivera said that children are known to be worry-free, always playing and making friends, and love running when they feel excited on seeing their loved ones.
According to Mayor Marcito Acoy, the Sto. Niño fiesta is something his constituent look forward every January, among the other activity they organized, are pageants for Nina and Niño and Hip-hop dance contest participated by different youth group from nearby towns of Brookes Point, Narra and even from Puerto Princesa.
“Yan po ay taon-taon namin isinasagawa ang Viva Senor Sto. Niño, nung hindi pa to bayan, barangay pa lang isinasagawa na sya, pati yung ati-atihan.” Acoy said.
Also in the south of Palawan, Barangay Princess Urduja in Narra joined the nationwide feast of Sto. Niño, on the same Sunday of January 19, they gathered their best dancers for the Ati-Atihan.
In Puerto Princesa City, the barangay council of Sicsican joined forces with their local parish to stage their annual Ati-Atihan, joined by different Purok or Sitios, and other establishments, the winning group is from Purok Fire Tree followed by Sicsican National High School.
In northern Palawan, the recorded practice of Sto. Niño fiesta is held in the beautiful community of Barotuan in El Nido. Tribu-Manug Ani that is composed of students from Barotuan National High School is their grand champion in Ati-Atihan that is joined by three other tribes.
Santo Niño is the most well-loved image of Christ in the Philippines. Its feast day is mostly celebrated in the Visayas region, making it one of the grandest festivals like Sinulog in Cebu, Dinagyang in Iloilo, and Ati-Atihan in Aklan. In Luzon, the famous image of Sto. Niño is known in Tondo and Pandacan of Metro Manila.
Sto. Niño Fiesta celebration usually lasts for a week before the feast day, happening every third Sunday of January.