Heavy traffic in downtown Cebu City for today’s Kaplag

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol April 27,2015 - 09:07 AM


Residents and visitors will witness a grand reenactment of the recovery of the Sto. Niño de Cebu, the country’s oldest religious icon, in three locations in downtown Cebu City at 3 p.m. today.

Roads around the centuries-old Basilica del Sto. Niño and the adjacent Cebu City Hall are closed to traffic for the reenactment, held as part of the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Kaplag (recovery).

Huge LED screens have been mounted at the Basilica, where the reenactment will culminate.

Nipa huts and other indigenous props have turned a part of downtown Cebu City into a pre-Hispanic village.

Over 300 local actors and actresses will take part in the reenactment to be supervised by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.


Cebuano choreographer Val Sandiego, Palanca Award-winning playwright Floy Quintos, and Trina Cayabyab– daughter of renowned composer Ryan Cayabyab — joined forces to present the Christianization of the Philippines that began in Cebu City.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will preside over the 5:30 p.m. mass that will follow the grand reenactment.

He will be joined by several visiting bishops and priests from different dioceses in the country.

A 450-member choir ensemble led by esteemed Cebuano musicians Manny Lapingcao and Joshua Montayre will render the liturgical hymns on the eve of the celebration.

Kaplag is the recovery of the Sto. Niño inside a wooden box amid the ruins of a burnt village hut in Cebu City in 1565.

Aside from the Kaplag, the Catholic Church will also mark two other milestones tomorrow: the 450th anniversary of the Augustinian presence in the Philippines, and the 50th anniversary of the elevation of the Sto. Niño Church into a minor basilica.


At 6 a.m. today, the image of the Sto. Niño will sail down the Mactan Channel on board the “galleon” in a fluvial procession from the Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City to Pier 1.

A number of Augustinian priests will escort the image during the sea procession.

“I’d like to tell all Cebuanos that this is a very big event. Everybody should take part in the celebrations. The next time we’ll have a celebration as grandiose as this will be in 2065. I just can’t wait for another 50 years because I may no longer be alive by that time. Let’s, therefore, make the most out of this,” said Augustinian priest Fr. Harold Rentoria, executive director of the 450th Kaplag celebration.

“The 450th Kaplag is the celebration of the Sto. Niño. This celebration is not only for Cebu, but for the whole Philippines and humanity. Even if we come from different places, we are united in our devotion to the Holy Child. We are drawn together by the magnet of love,” he added.

Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee of the International Eucharistic Congress, last night presided over the mass at the jampacked basilica.

Special event

About 30 bishops from various countries as well as Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and several priests concelebrated the mass.

Marini, the long-time liturgist of St. John Paul and Pope Benedict XVI, said the image of the Sto. Niño “beautifully portrays” Jesus whose good news was received by Cebuano natives 450 years ago.

“The Lord continues to guide us in every time and place. He is the good shepherd. He speaks to us. We have to listen to Him, not just with our ears, but also with our hearts,” he said.

Marini and several foreign delegates of the International Eucharistic Congress and the 450 Kaplag International Conference waved their hands and joined hundreds of devotees as the prayer hymn Bato-Balani sa Gugma was sung.

The congregation also danced the traditional Sinulog after the Mass. Fr. Jonas Mejares, rector of the basilica, said the Kaplag celebration is a special event for the entire country.

“These events are to be celebrated with joy and spiritual vigor, not only in Cebu, but in the entire Philippines and the Church,” he said.

Among those who pledged financial support for the triple celebrations were the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, the Cebu provincial government, the Cebu City government and several devotees of the Sto. Niño.

This afternoon’s grand reenactment will be held in three locations in Cebu City.

Scene 1 which will depict the arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and the Spanish soldiers in 1521, will be held at Plaza Independencia near the pier area.

Scene 2 will be 100 meters away, at the kiosk in front of the Cebu City Hall located beside the basilica.

Baptismal gift

The play will portray the planting of the Magellan’s Cross and the baptism of Queen Amihan and Rajah Humabon as the country’s first Catholics.

Magellan gave the Queen the image of the Sto. Nino as baptismal gift.

The final destination will be at the basilica’s pilgrim center, where a  reenactment of  the scenes that happened on April 28, 1565 when Spanish mariner Juan Camus found the same image of Señor Sto. Niño in a partially scorched hut will be shown.

On the actual site of rediscovery, the Augustinians–the first missionaries to arrive in the country–built a church-convent from where the evangelization of the Philippines started. This is now known as the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.

“We made it a point to make this year’s grand reenactment historically correct,” veteran stage and television director Floy Quintos said.


Val Sandiego, the director of the grand reenactment, said they spent months of research to accurately portray the arrival of the Spaniards and the Sto. Niño in Cebu as well as the discovery of the image of the child Jesus.

The group studied the accounts of Henry Bayer, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, Fray Andres de Urdaneta, and Antonio Pigafetta.

“We are very careful in interpreting everything, including the costume details and the characters. This reenactment is well-researched. Everybody should see it and experience what really happened in the past,” Sandiego said.

Tomorrow, April 28, the image of the Sto. Niño will be brought on a solemn procession at 3 p.m. before the Pontifical Mass to be presided by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

At 7 p.m. of the same day, there will be a Sinulog parade from Fuente Osmeña to the Basilica del Sto. Niño.

The original image of the Sto. Niño is presently enshrined in the marble “aedicula” located beside the main altar of the Basilica del Sto. Niño.

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TAGS: Cebu City, Kaplag, Sto. Niño

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