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It has been a Filipino tradition to get a Ninong (godfather) or Ninang (godmother) during the christening of a child. In fact, this tradition was further adopted in evangelical block during child dedication. Some people get ninong and ninang because of friendship, some because of popularity, and some by affinity.
However, some people without understanding the meaning and roles of ninong and ninang, they get them so that their children will have lots of gifts every Christmas.
Today, let’s get some enlightenment about it.
What being a ninong or ninang is not
1. Getting a ninong or ninang is not Biblical. Infant baptism is not biblical so as getting ninong or ninang as a requirement for baptism or child dedication. This is more like a tradition, but not necessarily biblical nor a requirement for Christianity.
Was it bad to get ninong or ninang? Not at all, as long as it is for the right reasons.
2. It’s not about getting a lot of gifts. Don’t get ninong and ninang for getting a lot of gifts during Christmas. Better get someone who can influence your child for better development. Why get a drunkard as a ninong? Do you want your children to be drunkard? Why get someone who is greedy and wealthy? Of course you want your child to be wealthy in the future, but definitely not greedy.
3. It’s not about name tagging and affinity. It is customary for Filipinos to tag themselves to popular people. It’s our pride to be tagged with celebrities, heroes, politicians, and wealthy people. If that’s the only reason you have to get a ninong and ninang, forget it.
4. It’s not about security in the future. Ninong and ninang are NOT financial securities of your children. They can help guide your child, or give some gifts as he grows. However, supporting and giving education to your child is your responsibility. If they can ninong and ninang can help give a job to your child in the future, that would be good, but it is a very poor reason to get them. It’s actually using just using them that’s the whole picture.
So why get ninong and ninang?
1. Get them as witnesses. They are supposed to be a witness of the commitment that you are making when you dedicate your child to God. They can help remind you that you need to be a good parent and that you made a commitment to God that you will want your child to grow with fear in the Lord.
If you are a Catholic, you should get them as witness because baptism certificates are somehow used as legal document and it requires a witness.
2. Get them as someone who can influence your child in the future. This is very crucial. You will want your children to be surrounded by reliable and good people. And that includes ninong and ninang. When you get them, you are allowing them to give good advice to your child as he grows. So make the most out of it. Get someone who is godly, someone who has a good disposition, someone who is kind, someone who does not have vices, etc.
3. Get them as your friend. If you are friends and your friend can give a commitment to be a good second parent to your child, why not?
Do you have legal responsibilities in supporting the child if you are ninong or ninang?
As far as I know about the laws in the Philippines, the answer is NO. You don’t have legal responsibilities to support the child. It is parent’s responsibility.
While getting a ninong or ninang is not bad at all, it should be clear that is just but a tradition and a fulfillment of a legal paper. The most important thing that you can do if you are a ninong and ninang is to give lessons on lifelong moral values and about God.