Hermano and Hermana Mayores 2022: Brought by Faith, Bonded by Love
“Father, are we deserving?” Ginalyn Labrado recounted her response to one of the Augustinian friars in the Basilica when the latter phoned in to break the news that she and her husband, Reynaldo Labrado, were chosen to be the Hermano and Hermana Mayor for Fiesta Señor 2022. Despite the brimming tears of happiness and the steadfast willingness for the once in a lifetime opportunity graced upon them lay the swirling doubts and a moment of disbelief at the edge of the Hermana’s mind, “We’re just an ordinary person.”
For Reynaldo’s part, there was no room for hesitation. “Diretso tando dayon (It’s a straight immediate yes.).” The Hermano believed it was a chance to serve and step nearer to the Holy Child, who has always showered them with blessings.
Laced with the yearly feast of Sñr. Sto. Niño de Cebu, albeit currently observed across the multiple screens of its million devotees, was the selection of Hermano and Hermana Mayor. As the representatives of all those who love and revere the Holy Child, the two were trusted to host and steward the few major parts of the celebration for smoother flow of operations.
The couple narrated the roots of their devotion, both deeply embedded in them since their childhood. Ginalyn was born in Plaridel, a municipality in Misamis Occidental. Despite the distance, her mother would brave the miles of waves and stand along the queue that stretched until Jakosalem Street just to pay reverence to the image of Sñr. Sto. Niño. Reynaldo, on the other hand, was a Cebuano native with a religious upbringing. His father, who worked at an electrical company nearby, would frequently drop him, an eight year-old at that time, off the Basilica to visit; while his grandmother would accompany him to attend Friday or weekend masses. In the next decades, he would also participate as part of the Sinulog drum corps.
Later in their adult years, their spiritual faith was the red string that pulled them together. The two joined a Charismatic Community, where Ginalyn belonged to the choir and Reynaldo was the guitarist. Their mutual devotion to the Holy Child became the common ground that brought them closer. Every day after work, they would rendezvous at the Basilica and attend the 4:30 pm mass.
While the transition to the married life was not smooth sailing for the couple due to the challenges they encountered: tons of debts and bills were piling up and their house on mortgaged was at risk to be sequestered, these only reinforced their devotion.
“Sangpit ra gyud [Niya] kada adlaw (Just call [to Him] every day),” the Hermano said when asked about what they do in times of struggle. He added that it has become part of their routine before leaving home to call unto Sñr. Sto. Niño to bless their daily ventures, thank Him for all the graces received, and ask for His guidance in every step of their plans.
For 26 years, the husband and wife were bonded even stronger by their love for Sñr. Sto. Niño, whom they fondly consider as their child and their source of joy in instances of sorrow. No matter where they go, the Hermana made sure to bring an image of the Holy Child with her; and no matter where they were around the globe, they would work around their schedules to make time for the annual 9-day novena of the Fiesta Señor.
Embracing their faith wholly, the couple advocated their life-long devotion in their community. Every room and every office of the International Marketing Group (IMG) in and outside the Philippines has an image of Sñr. Sto. Niño de Cebu. They would encourage their employees and colleagues to join them in attending the daily noon masses and the Friday Eucharistic celebrations at the Basilica. Before the lockdown, it has been their company’s tradition to sponsor a mass every 4th day of the novena and every first Sunday of the month followed by a mini-fiesta in their office where everyone would bring and share food.
Although the Labrados recognized the longing of most people to physically observe the Fiesta Señor, they also perceived its virtual celebration as more opened doors to commemorate the feast of the Holy Child. Regardless of the time and location, anyone has unlimited access to the novena masses. The two hoped that this would encourage the believers to listen and see to the said Eucharistic celebrations with equal fervor in their own homes.
“Padayon ta ninyo… di’ lang gyud ta muundang og pag ampo ni Sñr. Sto. Niño (Let’s continue moving forward… let’s not stop praying to Sñr. Sto. Niño),” the Hermana urged fellow faithfuls, especially with the pandemic and Typhoon Odette that recently devastated the country.
Meanwhile, the Hermano reminded the devotees of holding unto their faith amidst the trials. “Tanan na challenges, para sa ako, temporary lang na, but faith is permanent. (All the challenges, for me, are temporary, but faith is permanent).” /Devey Joy Gaviola, BMSN Media Centre volunteer