Filipinos in Taipei donned colorful costumes Sunday to celebrate a Catholic festival, the Sinulog, which was imported from their home country and is observed annually on the third Sunday of January.
More than 200 Catholics, mostly Filipinos, gathered at St. Christopher's Church (SCC) in Taipei for the Sinulog Festival that takes the form of a ritual prayer-dance in honor of Senor Santo Nino -- the Catholic title of the Child Jesus in the Philippines.
The festival first started in Cebu City in the 1980s and has since spread across the world through various Filipino communities, in commemoration of the Filipino people's acceptance of Christianity, according to Father Edward Pacquing, parish priest at the church.
"This is what we try to share with all peoples of the world," he said. "Wherever there are Filipinos, there is the Sinulog. I have seen the Sinulog in parishes and chaplaincies for Filipinos in Milan, Rome, and Australia."
The first recorded conversion of Filipinos to Catholicism dates back to 1521, when the ruler of Cebu island Rajah Humabon, his queen Amihan Humamay, and their subjects were baptized. The rulers then became known as Carlos and Juana of Cebu.
At this year's festival in Taipei, five SCC groups performed the Sinulog ritual-prayer dance, each portraying Queen Juana holding a statue of the child Jesus as she dances with her indigenous subjects.
Sabina Garfillo, a Filipina caretaker in Taipei who portrayed the queen in her group, was dressed in a white gown with a yellow feathered crown and was said to have given the most outstanding performance in that role.
St. Christopher's Church has been hosting the annual Sinulog Festival in Taipei since 1994.