Mabalacat, a Recollect town--and now a city--has but a handful of antique santos to show, owned by a few local families. The most well known--especially for its antiquity--is a medium-sized Sto. Nino under whose gaze, many Mabalaquenos have sought comfort and answers to their prayers for many generations. Apung Nino, they call this figure, owned by the Cunanan Family and their forebears from way, way back, that nobody remembers anymore its origin. and his veneration is open to all who visit His shrine. now weathered and darkened with age, but who continues to shower His people with graces, blessings and--many believe--wondrous miracles.
In a humble, nondescript home embraced by lush, flowering plants and trees, the Cunanans have enshrined Apung Nino in their home altar, a home they have opened to devotees who wish to visit and pray before the Holy Child. The house itself is old, but not as old as Apung Nino, a be-wigged, plump-ish figure of the Christ Child on a gilded base, with an orb on one hand, and the other raised in benediction.
Metal 'tres potencias' adorn Apung Nino's head, and that's just about the accessories he owns. Devotees, however, have gifted the revered image with presents through the years--a necklace, a locket, simple pieces of jewelry Even his vestments are austere by present-day standards. At home, Apung Nino wears simple house clothes; on the town fiesta, He dons more special clothes embroidered with gold-colored threads.
The caretaker of the image that everyone remembers was the late Engracia "Apung Asyang" Sengco Castro Cunanan,who tended Apung Nino along with children Yoyong, Roming, Ising, Nanding, Carding, and Fe Cunanan. After Apung Asyang passed away on 24 October 1987, and upon her death, her daughter Fe took over her duties. She thus continues the tradition of being a "camarera" of the family image began by her ancestors many years ago.
Apung Nino's special days are on the Feast of Sto. Nino every January and on the town fiesta of Mabalacat. During the fiesta celebration, Apung Nino gets to wear His special vestments and gets to go out of His Agusu home and, borne on a carroza, joins the festive town procession. And as the Holy Child makes the rounds of the town, one could hear the silent intonation of prayers of the faithful who have come from all over to give thanks and praise....
"O Senor Sto. Nino, You are Our King and Our God. We worship you. You are our strong Defender. We turn to you forever and ever...Amen".