Hawok. The tradition of kissing Sto. Niño.

Hawok. The tradition of kissing Sto. Niño.

Our Sinulog vow and advocacy

Sto. Nino, Sinulog, Cebu, PRworksDevotees at the linya sa hawok (line for the kiss) grow exponentially to several thousands as the feast of Señor Sto. Niño in Cebu City draws nearer. They line up for that precious moment traditionally called hawok (kiss).

They kiss, touch and wipe with a handkerchief the glass case protecting the image of Señor Sto. Niño believed to be miraculous. They patiently queue for hours to privately pray and express their petitions before the venerated image of the Holy Child Jesus housed at the marble chapel beside the altar of Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.

Most seek healing from disease. A couple who eloped prayed for the forgiveness of the woman’s father. A five-year-old little boy prayed for his father’s safe arrival from abroad. They talked of others blessed with answered prayers like healed illnesses, a husband quitting vices, a granted visa to the United States, and even passing exams.

Cebuanos grew up with the hawok, a tradition that is intertwined with stories associated with the image of the Holy Child and the beginnings of Christianity in the Philippines.


Hawok, Sinulog, Sto. Nino, Cebu, Philippines, PRworks

A look at history

Portuguese conquistador Ferdinand Magellan, who led a Spanish expedition in 1521, gave the image as a gift to the native queen Juana during the baptism of hundreds of natives led by then Zubu chief Humabon. However, remnants of the expedition hurriedly left the island after Lapu-Lapu, a chieftain of a nearby island, killed Magellan in the famous Battle of Mactan.

Decades later, on April 28 1565, another Spanish expedition led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi returned to face a more hostile local population. Here’s an account from the Sinulog official website on how Legazpi discovered the image:

The encounter between the unfriendly inhabitants and the alien soldiers did not augur well, and Legazpi, man of peace and of prudent ways, caused the Augustinian Andres de Urdaneta land with the soldiers to attempt prevent a fight between the wary inhabitants and the soldiery, frazzled of nerves and warlike in mood after the long passage from Mexico. No one knows who provoked the fire, but much of the town was destroyed, and the population took to the hills behind. The usual search of the remaining houses ensued, but nothing of value was to be found in any, except for one in which one of the sailors hit upon a chest bound with a cord which clearly was of Spanish make. Inside the chest a second box was found and in it a statuette clad in velvet and with a red cap on its head. Two fingers of the right had of the statue were raised and extended as in blessing, and the left hand held a gilded globe. The image was obviously well preserved, with “just the tip of the nose rubbed off somewhat and the skin coming off its face”, and it was clear that, for whatever reasons, the image had been kept with the care afforded an object considered sacred.

… When it was brought to Legazpi he knelt before it, took it in his hands, kissed it, and proclaimed before his men that the finding of the statue was indeed an auspicious omen, announcing further that the grounds where it had been found and the surrounding area would be reserved for a church and monastery in which the Holy Child would thenceforth be enshrined for the veneration of all the future generations.


Today, devotees line up leading to the special marble chapel beside the basilica altar for the hawok or kiss. The chapel that provided devotees an approach to the venerated image without interfering with the Church liturgy was opened to the public in November 1976.

Sinulog, Sto. NIno, Cebu, Philippines, PRworks
The PRworks team stayed up after the devotees had gone home to arrange flowers at the marble chapel of Senor Sto. Nino last January 10, 2016. Click the photo to read about the PRworks experience in 2012.

Sometime in 2002, Doris Mongaya who was then proprietor of Weddings and Crafts and the early PRworks team decided to sponsor the flower decorations of the chapel for a day during the pre-novena Señor Sto. Niño every year. When PRworks became a corporation in March 2004, the public relations agency continued the vow of arranging flowers for the Señor Sto. Niño annually.

After the novena last January 10, 2015, the PRworks team again went about decorating the marble chapel of Señor Sto. Niño. This time, the decoration kicks off the #MyFirstSinulog campaign.

The campaign basically involves sharing infographics useful for Sinulog first timers as they wade through the millions spilling into the streets as Cebuanos celebrate the feast of Señor Sto. Niño.

It focuses on the following Sinulog highlights: the Hawok , the Solemn Procession and the Grand parade.

These events capture the essence of Sinulog as they show the devotion of Cebuanos to Senior Sto. Nino. These events form part of the vibrant history and culture of Cebu.

Red Hot Sinulog

#MyFirstSinulog jives with Red Hot Sinulog: AirAsia, the world’s best low cost carrier for seven consecutive years, is giving away free party passes, discount treats and other exciting freebies in line with this year’s celebration of Sinulog Festival in Cebu.

From January 12 to 16, all AirAsia passengers bound for Cebu from Manila, Incheon (Seoul) and Kuala Lumpur and vice versa will each receive a Red Hot Sinulog festival kit which provides them free and exclusive access to festival concerts, parties, tours and discount coupons to popular restaurants, cafes and clubs.

AirAsia, Sinulog, float, Cebu, Philippines
The design of the AirAsia float for the Sinulog Grand Parade.

PRworks is Philippine AirAsia’s public relations partner in the Visayas and Mindanao.

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Sinulog is not just for the young. #MyFirstSinulog #sinulog2016 #airasia #redhotsinulog

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PRworksPH team

PRWorksPH Content Team is now composed of Emmanuel Mongaya, Alya Simone Mongaya, Patricia Quiachon, and Raphaella Bautista.

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