The feast of Santo Niño de Cebu was celebrated with the usual devotion and splendor. An estimated 2.7 million people joined the procession or watched along the sidelines of its route.
The image of the Santo Niño was ensconced on its silver shrine, smothered by masses of orchids. People prayed or gave shouts of “Pit Señor,” a plea as much as a joyous form of greeting. Others danced the Sinulog whose shuffling steps recall the movement of the waves.
Two processions took place on Saturday, Jan. 19. The first was an early morning fluvial progress through the Cebu channel. The Santo Niño was onboard a caravelle that sailed from the Ouano wharf in Mandaue City.
The tradition is relatively recent, instituted by Ernesto and Mary Ouano in 1984, and now faithfully carried on by their children and grandchildren. More than 150 seacrafts formed a flower-decked flotilla that escorted the Santo Niño all the way to Pier I in Cebu City’s international port.
The next procession started at about 1 p.m., going up from the Basilica del Santo Niño through Osmeña Boulevard, down General Maxilom (more familiarly called Mango Avenue), and returning down through M.J. Cuenco Avenue. Streets around these vicinities had been closed to traffic since noon.
As they do every year, the family of Jose Mari Miranda and Nola “Happy” Ouano Miranda held a family luncheon on Jan. 19 at their ancestral home in Ramos Street. It is one of the few mansions of a bygone era that continues to be lived in.
Daughter of the house Merche Miranda supervised the menu, consisting of homemade dishes from old family recipes. This year was specially joyful as Tessa and Ipar Miranda were bouncing on their laps their pretty little five-month-old baby, Isla Victoria. Youngest brother Jose Miranda was present, too, attending to his group of friends.
Seen: Benjamin and Marian Miranda, Mitos Montilla, Sonny and Margarita McFarland, Maricar and Josele de Madrazo, Gema Pido, Myra Gonzalez with Enrique and Dahlia Raffel, who had arrived from Seville, Spain, two days before.
The culmination of Cebu’s annual fete was on Sunday, Jan. 20, with the whole-day Sinulog parade. Preparations for this had kept hundreds busy for the preceding two weeks with myriad events.
Miss Cebu 2013
The most colorful of them all was the beauty pageant to select Miss Cebu 2013, where the contestants don’t wear bathing suits, but elegant clothes designed by Cebu’s top couturiers. It was held on Jan. 16 at the Pacific Ballroom of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel.
Twelve beautiful, statuesque girls vied for the title and dazzled the jam-packed audience. The crown went to 19-year-old biology student Namrata Neesha Murjani, who turned 20 the next day.
Her father, Dave, is from Bombay, and has a business here; her mother is from the northern Cebu town of Tuburan. Namrata was crowned amid the blare of trumpets and to the beat of Sinulog drums by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Miss Cebu 2012 Pierre Infante.
She was cited for being Best in Long Gown, which earned for Cary Santiago the corresponding award. It is becoming a tradition.
In her court were runners-up (in order of precedence) Therese Christine Llamada, Maria Gigante, Patricia Estuart and Ely Rose Angcon. Special awards went to Jehanne Dy, Miss Friendship, and Marivee Velasquez, Miss Photogenic.
In the panel of judges were Noli Hernandez, president of Megaworld Properties which has just launched a grand project in Cebu; Evelyn del Rosario, head of community relations at the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.; interior designer Cynthia Almario; JC Buendia, president of the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines; and Rey Fung; assistant country manager of Cathay Pacific Airways.
Miss Earth, Mister World
Recognized and given an opportunity to glide onstage were former Miss Cebu runners-up who have been crowned in recent beauty tilts: Vanessa Amman, 2012 Miss World Philippines; and Rizzini Gomez, 2012 Miss Tourism International.
Hosting the event was a former Miss Cebu, Carla Henry, Miss Earth 2008. Her co-emcee was Andrew Wolff, Mr. World runner-up.
Entertainment numbers livened up the program, performed by Victoria Ingram, and visiting artists courtesy of Resorts World Manila: the Primo male duo which serenaded the beauties; Bo Cerrudo and Sheila Valderrama with songs from “The King and I,” and the Edge of Glory with their stunning acrobatic feats which earned the loudest applause.
Present and seated on the front row was Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña who heads the Cebu City Tourism Commission, in charge of the annual Miss Cebu pageant. In a few months they’ll start preparing for next year’s event.
Pretty as ever was Jaja Chiongbian Rama, in charge of invitations. Ditto Anna Jordana Quisumbing of the Tourism Commission and Glenda Gabuya of the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission.