Philippines

Sto. Niño missing?

BY JOSEPH PEDRAJAS

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STO. Niño de Pandacan

STO. Niño de Pandacan

Authorities are looking for the centuries-old statue of Sto. Niño that went missing following a fire that hit its home, the Santo Niño de Pandacan Parish, in Manila on Friday.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso told reporters, after his visit to the church, that it is his personal priority to be able to locate the image.

“The city will extend assistance to cleaning the rubbles and the main objective is to find the Santo Niño [image],” he said.

“’Yun muna. Then next step, how are we going to participate as a citizen – not as a mayor but as a community member – to revive the church in our own little way,” he added.

Senior Supt. Gerrandie Agonos, Manila fire marshal, said in a text message that they are still investigating the incident but they are considering “electrical fire due to short circuit” as the cause of the blaze.

He added that the image of Santo Niño might have already been reduced to ashes.

“Yung image ay gawa sa kahoy kaya maaring kasama na ito sa natupok sa sunog,” he said.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Friday raised a third alarm fire at the two-story parish on Jesus St. in Pandacan around 1:19 p.m. It started at the convent’s second floor.

The fire was declared out around 2:15 p.m. or exactly an hour and 10 minutes after it was first reported to the fire bureau.

The altar and the benches inside the parish were gutted, while the replica of the Black Nazarene and the images of other saints were found already charred.

Agonos said that when firefighters arrived in the area, the blaze was already big.

“Nakita sa loob na talagang ang [materials] nito ay gawa sa kahoy. Ang kisame gawa sa kahoy. Kaya di makaka-ila na pagdating ng bumbero natin malaki na ‘yung apoy,” Agonos told reporters Friday.

A witness said that firefighters tried to save the image of the Sto. Niño. But they failed to do so when the fire spread further following the explosion of a liquefied petroleum gas.

The image of the Child Jesus Christ was important for residents of Pandacan as it was being honored every third Saturday of January during the celebration of the Buling-Buling Festival.

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