The day following the Tonton ng Sto Niño de Romblon, the Biniray Festival continues with a street dance parade. The festival re-enacts how the Señor Sto Niño was attempted to be taken away from Romblon Island en route to Madrid but was averted by storms. Only the image to be returned back to its place. A colorful parade of atis, similar to Ati-atihan adds color to the revelry. This time each baranggay trying to best each other in costume and performance.
This year’s parade started at the open grounds near DEPED. A mass initiated the parade where the image of Sto Niño de Romblon is mounted on top of a pickup truck as lead. While the performers get ready, we were free to roam around the grounds and take pictures of the participants in their native garbs with modern adornments. Bodies mostly painted in black akin to the Atis, the original inhabitants of Romblon. As with other Sto Niño festivals, they cry at “Hala Bira” and “Viva Señor Sto.Niño! Viva!”
We waited on the side streets to see them parade and perform. Every drumbeat reverberates with our heart beat. The energy was intense and festive. I even find my body moving slightly on its own to the beat. What I love about small festivals like this is how intimate we get with the participants in the parade. We smile and laugh with them. Move with them. The smiles and warmth were genuine.
Fluvial and Sto Niño Procession
After the parade made its round in town, the Señor Sto Niño is boarded on a ship where smaller outrigger follows like bees following their queen. They circle around the bay seven times before they head back. Similar to how the Spanish galleon tried to leave the bay and failed. After which the Señor Sto Niño returns to its pedestal at the St Joseph Cathedral.
The devotees who left their Sto Niño would then recover them from the side altar and parade them around town.
It was such an interesting show of devotion and tradition. Romblomanons consider the practice as a thanksgiving as well for life’s bounty and prosperity.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.