Statue of Santo Niño de Cebú

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

This object is a replica statue of the Santo Niño de Cebú, or Holy Child of Cebu, and it has been in my boyfriend Chris’s family for as long as he can remember. After the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, Roman Catholicism has been an important ideology to the people of the Philippines, and Chris’s family was able to bring this belief system with them here to the U.S. This statue is important to his family because many Filipino Catholics venerate the image or symbol of a Child Christ as miraculous. 

The history of The Santo Niño de Cebu has important significance to how the Philippines came to be today. This symbol was first seen when Ferdinand Magellan first came to the island of Cebu and presented the island’s ruler with three gifts. One of these gifts was a statue of The Santo Niño. After Magellan died in 1521, Spanish colonists returned about 40 years later. To the colonists’ surprise they were able to find the image of Santo Niño in a pine box, and it was then seen as a sign of miracle. To this day it is still viewed as miraculous by many, including Chris’s parents.

As Filipino immigrants, one cultural aspect that has stuck with Chris’s parents throughout their lives is their religion. Chris told me that after years of living in the U.S. there are still some times when he sees his mom praying over the statue. I have seen this as well. This object holds a place of value in his household because of its deep history and symbolic meaning.

– Elizabeth Farrell

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant