Beneath the Sea of Red and Yellow | StoryaNiño

Beneath the Sea of Red and Yellow | StoryaNiño

Flames from the red candles flicker in the faces of the faithful; the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu is slowly being filled with devotees from all walks of life. Countless faces full of hope; some even hardened by unknown trials. Among these faithful is an old woman whose eyes look teary. Under the scorching December sun, she stands tall wearing her yellow blouse and long red skirt. Rosita Amorio, 71 years old, is a candle vendor in the Basilica. She has spent almost a decade of her life roaming the grounds to sell her craft. Among the influx of tourists showing pilgrimage, she positions herself in the corner like a chameleon. People see her as the “nanay” they approach to buy candles, never asking for her name. This time, she agrees for her voice to be heard from a new perspective. This is her Storya Niño story.

Rosita Amorio is a mother of 3 children, her husband is suffering from high blood pressure and has recently recovered from a stroke. At dawn, she wakes up early to travel via habal-habal from Lapu-Lapu to Parkmall in Colon. From there, she catches the morning jeep ride to the Basilica. A hectic commute it may seem, but when asked why she continues to do it despite her old age, she reasons out simply.

“Dako kaayo kog pasalamat kang Sto. Niño kay wala mi niya pasagdii. Sukad pa pagka bata nako mao nani ako gina buhat ug na anad nako”.

Like thousands of Cebuano, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her job was compromised. Without being vaccinated due to old age, she had to stop working. Navigating through financial instability as the sole breadwinner of her family, the only thing that helped her continue to walk through life was faith in the Balaang Bata of Cebu. Now, with the city almost fully returning to its pre-pandemic state, she wears again her Basilica United Vendors and Photographers Association (BUVPA) uniform.

When asked about her prayer intercessions for the 483rd Fiesta Señor celebration, she smiles shyly.

“Maayong panlawas ra gyud nga maka trabaho ko ug padayon ug maka halad pako ni Sto. Niño akong gi ampo karong umaabot nga Sinulog. Daghan kayko ug angay ipa salamat sa iyaha, labi nag naka balik nako sa pag tinda. Mapa salamaton ra gyud ko.”

On the crowded Sinulog streets, Rosita Amores may seem like another stranger without a name. Anonymous as she may be, her story represents the millions of nameless devotees of the Sto. Niño de Cebu. Shining in red and yellow, her willow movements are that of a bamboo tree. On stormy days, she may bend, never breaking. Her strength lies in the childlike innocence she adopted from the Balaang Bata. She raises her candles and sways in the tradition of the Sinulog dance, humming her prayers. Rosita continues to hope that through this, she may one day return the favor to Sto. Niño. /Lourdes Isabella Corpuz, BMSN Media Centre Volunteer

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