Religious tourism draws tourists and followers to Antique
Visitors to the province of Antique are welcome to worship and meditate in front of the different representations of the Sto. Nino in the exhibition known as “Ang Balaan Nga Bata,” or The Holy Child, at the former Antique capitol building in this capital city.
In an interview on Wednesday, Juan Carlos Perlas, the Antique Provincial Tourism Officer (APTO), stated that as part of the promotion of religious tourism, for the first time, approximately 27 collections of the various images of the Sto. Nino is on display from January 16 through the end of the month.
“We encourage visitors and followers to attend the exhibit since it provides us with both a religious and a historical experience,” Perlas added.
He continued by saying that one of the Spanish influences deeply ingrained in Filipino culture is their devotion to Saint Nicholas.
During the Sto. Nino celebration in the third week of January, the APTO set up the display in collaboration with a group of followers from the Antique Circulo of los Devotos del Nino Jesus directed by Richard Magbanua.
Niki de Los Reyes Torres, the APTO Special Projects Coordinator, reported that on average 50 visitors come each day to pray and meditate on the portraits of the Child Jesus.
Every day, believers, students, and visitors from various backgrounds visit the display, according to Torres.
He continued, “The treasures are owned by (eight) elderly families from Antique who have a strong attachment to the Sto. Nino.
The oldest object on display is a wooden Sto. Nino or Baby Jesus in swaddling clothing that dates to the 1800s, is owned by the de Los Reyes family.
There are also the prototypes for St. Nicholas of Cebu and St. Nicholas of Romblon, which feature a depiction of a prince wearing a crown, scepter, and royal cape.
The public is reminded to always exercise generosity through images of Sto. Nino de Palaboy dressed as a beggar, Salvador del Mundo, also known as the Savior of the World, and Baby Jesus with a bottle, which embodies innocence and playfulness.
In conjunction with the Feast Day of Patron Saint Blaise, a pilgrimage location renowned for healing miracles, APTO is getting ready for increased religious tourism in Sebaste town in January of the next year.
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