Feast Day of Sto. Niño, also referred to as Batangas City Fiesta, is a yearly religious festival in the city of Batangas, Batangas, Philippines held every January 16. The date is also at times a special non working holiday in the city through presidential declaration, for example Proclamation 1978 in 2010.
Devotion to Sto. Niño in Batangas City
The feast is an expression of faith and devotion to the Holy Child, also called Sto. Niño de Batangan. The image is enthroned at the Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception.
The history of its devotion in Batangas can be traced back to Cebu as the image is a replica of Sto. Niño de Cebu, considered the oldest Catholic icon in the Philippines. In this context then, it is similar to the religious aspect of Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City where the replica of the Holy Child of Cebu was brought to San Jose Placer Parish Church by the Augustinian Recollects.
According to tradition, the devotion is centuries-old and began since the time of the Spanish conquest, to as far back as 1581. Sto. Niño de Batangan was a cargo that was saved from an ill-fated ship. It drifted off the sea and washed ashore in Batangas. Its dark complexion is reportedly the result of the fire that the ship was caught in before it plunged into the depths of the sea.
Another story seems to imply that the icon installed in Batangas City is the original Sto. Niño de Cebu. A galleon ship was bound to Cebu from Manila. Its crew could not continue the journey for the weather turned and it was risky to sail on. They decided to set their anchor in Batangas to let the storm pass.
However, each time they resumed their trip the weather would deteriorate so they brought the image of the Holy Child to the local church and offered prayers. The weather improved and they sailed successfully to their destination. A similar origin story can also be found in Romblon’s Biniray Festival.
Later, a deaf-mute child found the image of the Holy Child that was to be of the same likeness of Sto. Nino de Cebu in the banks of Calumpang River at a time when the Sto. Niño de Cebu was supposedly missing. When people tried to retrieve the icon to be moved back to Cebu, their attempts failed due to rising tides or a tempest and so they decided to install the icon in their local church.
January 16 is said to be the date of the discovery of Sto. Niño de Batangan.
The Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception is also the home of miraculous image of La Immaculada Concepcion de la Cuidad de Batangas, an episcopally crowned icon. It is the second church declared a minor basilica through papal issuance by Pope Pius XII in 1948. On January 16, 2022, it was declared the Archdiocesan Shrine of Santo Niño de Batangan in a religious ceremony by Archbishop Gilbert Garcera, becoming the eighth shrine in the Archdiocese of Lipa.
The feast day of the Immaculate Concepcion also coincides with the founding anniversary of the province of Batangas.
Santo Niño de Batangan
The present-day Santo Niño de Batangan is not the Spanish-era original, an icon no longer in existence because the convent where it was kept burned in 1999. The image that is enshrined in the minor basilica today is a replica and contains the ashes and fragments of the original. Nevertheless, its devotion remains undimmed.
The statue is crowned, dark in color, and clad in royal clothes made of metal complete with a cape that spreads like a canopy in the back. Its left hand holds a scepter and directed outward as though about to perform an act of benediction, while the other holds a globe with a cross.
Activities of the Feast Day of Sto. Niño de Batangan
Activities of the Feast Day of Sto. Niño de Batangan is a blend of religious events, organized by the Archdiocesan Shrine of Santo Niño de Batangan, and secular schedule that is taken care of by the city government of Batangas.
The city fiesta begins with nine-day novena and mass which is observed with a fluvial procession on January 7. The fluvial procession is said to re-enact the discovery of Sto. Niño de Batangan in Calumpang river by a child. There are also beauty pageant like Binibining Lungsod ng Batangas, parade (joined by schools, institutions, public sector, busineses, civic organizations, and others), job fair, talent contests, motorcade, art competition, musical competition, etc.
How to reach Batangas City
Bus trips can be booked from Buendia, Cubao, Alabang, Aurora Boulevard. The trip might take about three hours or more from the capital.
- Viva Sto. Niño! The Colorful Celebration of Batangas City Fiesta 2013. January 22, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2023
- Kendrick Ivan Panganiban. 2 Holy Child Shrines declared on Santo Niño feast. Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. January 17, 2022. Retrieved January 22, 2023
- Batangas City Basilica, now Archdiocesan Shrine of Sto. Niño ng Batangan. Balikas News Network. January 17, 2022. Retrieved January 22, 2023
- James Malabanan. Santo Niño de Batangan – The Black Santo Niño of Batangas. Pintakasi. January 2019. Retrieved January 22, 2023
- Lyka Manalo. Batangueño devotees join Sto. Niño fluvial procession. January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2023
- Proclamation No. 1978, s. 2010. Official Gazette. Retrieved January 22, 2023
- Festivals and celebrations. City Government of Batangas. Retrieved January 22, 2023