Faithfully yours, Señor Santo Niño: A festival queen’s story

By: Rosalie Abatayo - Reporter/CDN Digital | January 21,2020 - 08:00 AM

Maria Rose Jean Peligro-Arraz, the festival queen of Lumad Basakanon, raises the Señor Santo Niño in her 17th year of being the lead dancer of the contingent from Barangay San Nicolas, Cebu City. CDN Digital Photo | Gerard Vincent Francisco

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Dancing for Santo Niño is an opportunity but doing it for more than two decades is a blessing.

And so is the tale of Maria Rose Jean Peligro-Arraza, a Sinulog dancer of Barangay Basak San Nicolas’ Lumad Basakanon for 22 years.

This year marks Arraza’s 17th year as Lumad Basakanon’s festival queen for the Sinulog.

“It was in 1998 that Lumad Basakanon danced under the Sinulog Based Category. That was the first time that I danced as one of the damas or main dancers for the Lumad Basakanon,” Arraza, who is now 39 years old, told CDN Digital.

In 2004, Arraza was first chosen to lead the Lumad Basakanon troupe, a Sinulog crowd darling, as their festival queen.

Having carried the Santo Niño for close to two decades, Arraza says she hopes that she will become an instrument to bring the Santo Niño to the people and to make them feel His presence.

“It is really a privilege. Overwhelming siya. Mao na akong giingon ug i-pray pod nga every time I raise Him [during the dance], ma-instrument ko of the faith ug ma-feel sa mga tawo ang iyang presensya,” Arraz said.

(I always pray that I would be an instrument of faith and that the people would feel his presence every time I raise him during the dance.)

Arraza also lives to tell the story of faith and salvation through the Holy Child.

Deboto ko ni Señor Santo Niño. This is one way for me to offer to him and panaad na pod ba. I owe this second life to him. Niana ko niya nga ‘Hangtud kaya pa nako, mo-dance gyud ko para nimo,‘” 39-year-old Arraza said.

(I am a devotee of Señor Santo Niño. This is one way for me to offer to Him and has been my commitment of devotion. I owe this second life to Him so I promised to him that as long as I can, I will really dance for Him.)

Arraza, a junior high school teacher in a private university in Cebu, said she thanks the Señor Santo Niño for her every answered prayer.

One of her encounters of faith was in 2007 when she was severely injured during a dance presentation at the Cebu Provincial Capitol.

“I really had to be taken to the hospital because of the bad fall. That was when I vowed that if He heals me, I would dance for Him for as long as I can,” she said.

For Arraz, she owes to the Santo Niño all the good things that she has, including her family and her 10-year-old daughter, Chloe Niña.

Arraz said as she dances during the parade and the grand showdown, she also says prayers for her family, friends and colleagues who ask her to include them in her prayers.

Lumad Basakanon of Cebu City wins in the Free Interpretation category of the Sinulog 2020 grand parade and ritual showdown held on Jan. 19, 2020. CDN Digital photo | Raul Constantine Tabanao

“I also thank our choreographers, Captain Norman Navarro and Sir Dennis Navarro, for allowing me to continue to dance. If not for them, I would not be able to keep my promise,” she said.

Read: Complete list of winners of Sinulog 2020

Read: Sinanduloy, Lumad Basakanon make grand comeback to Sinulo

This Sinulog Grand Parade and Showdown 2020, Arraz and the Lumad Basakanon contingent reaped the grand prize for the Sinulog Ritual Showdown, Best in Costume and Best in Musicality for the Free Interpretation Category.

During the Sinulog Tribu sa Kabataan, Lumad Basakanon also reaped the top spot in all the categories including Best in Ritual Showdown, Best in Street Dancing, Best in Costume and Best in Musicality. bmjo

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TAGS: Festival Queen, Free Interpretation, Lumad Basakanon, Sinulog Festival

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