CEBU CITY, Philippines - A white painted image of the Sto. Niño, which ?dances?, drew about a hundred devotees and curious onlookers in Barangay (village) Guadalupe, Cebu City last week.
The image was brought by its owner, the Herrera family, for the third time to Cebu City for a healing mission upon the invitation of the Rentoza couple.
Inside the house of Eduardo and Amy Rentoza at the Tuscania Residences in Guadalupe, a crowd gathered around the 33-inch statue dressed in white with a red cape trimmed with gold.
At a prayer session that followed, the image swayed back and forth and rocked side to side.
The only human contact was the light touch of the forefinger of Martin, who acts as the ?medium.? His finger rests on the foot of the Sto. Niño image.
Fondly called the ?Sto. Niño White,? the icon belonged to the parents of Soledad ?Nanay Eda? Herrera of Malabon in Manila.
After Nanay Eda's parents died, she kept seeing them in her dreams telling her that the Sto. Niño White wanted her to get him from the family's ancestral house in Malabon, the Rentoza couple said.
So Nanay Eda's children, brothers Martin, who act as the medium, and Gerry, who heads the Sto. Niño White Music Ministry, got the icon and brought it to their house nearby.
To the family's surprise, the image started moving and jumping on its own on May 27, 1986 about 6 p.m. they said.
At first, the family could not believe their eyes. According to the Rentozas, the Herrera family hid the icon, afraid to tell the others about this strange occurrence.
But Martin said when he touched the image, it ?spoke? through him and sent the message that the Holy Child wanted the family to use him for healing missions.
Since then, the Herrera family and 35 friends have been traveling to depressed areas in the Philippines to provide medical and healing missions.
The group pays for their own travel and does not accept donations.
When the Rentoza couple first heard of the Sto. Niño White two years ago, they invited the Herrera family to come to their home.
Amy Rentoza, a construction entrepreneur, said their family started being a devotee of the Sto. Niño White three years ago. She said this has strengthened their family?s faith in God.
?The first time we saw the Sto. Niño White, it was really different. The miracles were countless. My number one concern was the health of my children and my husband, who is asthmatic. Then we kept praying for our construction business to always have projects. We thanked God our people still have work despite the financial crisis,? she said.
Not only is their business thriving despite the economic crisis, the family is also in good health.
Amy said that inviting the white image to their home for a third time was their way of sharing their blessings with others and to express their strong faith in God.
This year's visit at the Rentoza home started with a solemn Mass. A Tagalog-speaking priest in a white sotana celebrated the Eucharist, saying it was his second time to be there. This was followed by dinner.
About 30 minutes after the meal, Martin said the Sto. Niño White wanted to speak to the people. The group began to sing ?Come Holy Spirit.?
When Martin touched the icon?s foot with his forefinger, it started to sway back and forth and side to side.
Suddenly the image ?jumped? off the table. Martin caught it midair, and placed it down on the floor.
Some people in the room started crying, among them a Cebu City councilor who took photos with her camera phone. The icon swayed and shuffled on the floor.
Martin?s forefinger stayed on its foot.
He said the Sto. Niño was ?pleased? with the Cebuanos' strong devotion and thanked the Rentoza family for making it a part of their Sinulog.
Then the medium asked the priest to cradle the Sto. Niño to start the healing session.
People lined up, waiting for their turn to be ?blessed? by leaning their foreheads on the outstretched hand of the icon.
A seven-month pregnant woman said she heard about the Sto. Niño White from her doctor. She persuaded her husband to accompany her to pray for a smooth delivery of her first born. She said that when she touched her forehead to the Sto. Niño?s hand, she felt a warm sensation and then felt weak afterwards.
Two retired female bank workers were there to seek help for their arthritis and hip pains. Both said that when they touched the Sto. Niño, their body parts felt warm. When they returned to their seats, they were not able to control their tears.