Taipei, Feb. 20 (CNA) Hundreds of people braved the rain and filled the streets of Taipei Sunday as Taiwan’s Filipino community marked the feast of Santo Niño, an annual celebration of the Philippines’ Catholic history.
Around 500 members of the Filipino community opened the Santo Niño Beats for Peace Festival: In My Circular World event with a parade, which featured colorful traditional Filipino dresses and other creative costumes as well as festive music and dancing.
Led by the Taipei Yuehfu Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Taipei Municipal Zhong Shan Girls High School Color Guard and Marching Band, the parade, composed of 14 Filipino dance groups, headed toward Linsen N. Rd, Nong’an St. and back to Zhongshan N. Rd., before assembling at the Taipei Expo Park for an awards ceremony.
With the event taking place in downtown Taipei, marshals from the Taiwan chapter of the Confederation of Ilocano Association, Inc., Samahang Ilocano (CIASI) were on hand to ensure that the parade flowed smoothly without disrupting traffic.
Usually held during the third Sunday of January, the feast day of Santo Niño is celebrated in commemoration of when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan brought a statue of the baby Jesus as a baptismal gift in 1521 to Hara Amihan, wife of Rajah Humabon of Cebu.
This is one of the most important events in the religious history of the Philippines as it paved the way for the spread of Christianity in the country, according to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).
Teodoro Luis B. Javelosa Jr., Manila Economic and Cultural Office deputy resident representative, said in a speech that the celebration of the event was a way to bring Filipino culture to Taiwan, and also promote the Philippines as a fun and festive tourism destination “as well as continue our traditions, especially with a big Filipino community now working and living here in Taiwan.”
There are 141,808 Filipino migrant workers living and working in Taiwan, according to Ministry of Labor statistics from the end of 2021.
Despite cold weather and continuous showers, hundreds of Filipinos attended the event.
“It shows that the Filipino spirit is very much alive here in Taiwan,” Javelosa told CNA.
Tom T.C. Chou (周台竹), commissioner for external affairs, Mayor’s Office, Taipei City government, who was at the event representing Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), said in a speech that the event provided an opportunity for residents of the city to appreciate Filipino culture despite ongoing COVID-19-related international travel restrictions.
Taipei City has been working with foreign representative offices to organize performance and cultural events to provide an international flair to the city so that those who can’t go overseas because of the pandemic have the chance to learn about different cultures, Chou said.
“When our city residents attend these events, it gives them a feeling of having gone overseas,” Chou told CNA. “And in a way, it strengthens Taipei’s relationship with foreign offices, which is very beneficial to overall foreign affairs.”
The event also hosted a dance competition for the 14 groups that entered the parade, with the Filipino Married to Taiwanese Association winning the top prize of NT$30,000 (US$1,075.75).
Ruth Suba, a member of the group, told CNA that the event was very important to her.
“If you are devoted to Santo Niño, surely, he will help us. It’s very important, it is our big tradition in the Philippines,” she said.
The Santo Niño Beats for Peace Festival: In My Circular World is considered to be the biggest Filipino culture-related parade and street dance event since the Taipei Masskara Festival in September 2020.
(By William Yen)


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