Tondo, Josefina Socorro Flores. 2010. Popular Religiosity and the Transnational Journey: Inscribing Filipino Identity in the Santo Niño Fiesta in New Zealand. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 11(3-4):219-44.
Tondo discusses how the performance of the sacral – the celebration of Cebu’s Santo Niño-Sinulog in Auckland and Christchurch – is a form of cultural expression of the Filipino diaspora that seeks to interweave notions of family, home, the sacred, national/regional identity, and transnational settlement. As historicized by Tondo, the celebration of the Santo Niño (infant Jesus Christ) together with the performance of the Sinulog dance began with the migration of a devout Filipino couple to Auckland, who brought a Santo Niño icon with them. The ritual started with private novenas (praying rituals) being held in Filipino homes. With the increase in the number of devotees, the first official Santo Niño-Sinulog was celebrated in Auckland in 1994. In Christchurch, meanwhile, the celebration of the fiesta is linked to a Filipino bride’s migration story – she pledged to hold one to give thanks to the Santo Niño for her successful marriage to a “Kiwi” and settlement in New Zealand. These rituals began as private affairs, with the Santo Niño being a “highly honoured guest” in Filipino homes (228). Comparing the celebration of the fiesta by the Filipino community in New Zealand with a religious pilgrimage, the author writes that many overseas Filipino workers take with them religious icons for protection (229). As the religious icons are carried from Filipino homes to the streets during processions, and then to the churches, impersonal/public spaces are transformed into places of home (229). Thus, it is in such rituals that “homeland and diaspora are symbolically joined” and new spaces and identities are created and claimed (230). The fiesta in New Zealand also recreates class and social divisions found back in the Philippines, with successful migrants being given prominent positions of honour in these events (235). Through these rituals, the common Christian identityof Filipinos coming from different regions is affirmed and celebrated, as part of New Zealand’s multicultural society (240).