‘Taong Putik’ festival: COVID-19 removed crowds, but not faith
ALIAGA, Nueva Ecija—Devotees showed “the same intensity of faith” in celebrating the feast of St. John the Baptist at the village of Bibiclat though the COVID-19 pandemic forced the people to tweak the celebration and drop two of its features—merrymaking and large crowds.
Residents stood in front of their houses and on road sides, with some muddying their faces and covering themselves in dried banana leaves, as the parish priest, Fr. Elmer Villamayor, passed by on a motorcade to bless the people with holy water.
St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of Bibiclat.
The village’s version of the feast is called “Pagsa-San Juan” but it’s more popularly known as Taong Putik Festival after the villagers’ practice of covering their faces in mud and wearing banana leaves to emulate what was thought to be John the Baptist’s attire when he baptized Jesus.
In the Bible, St. John donned clothes made of camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey as he prepared the faithful for the coming of Jesus.
In other parts of the country, the feast day of St. John the Baptist is observed by splashing water on revelers or passersby in a hugely different reenactment of Jesus’ baptism by John.
Villamayor thanked devotees for adhering to health protocols as they celebrated the feast while the province is still on quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In his homily during Mass attended by a small number of residents, Villamayor urged the devotees to “stand for truth, like John did to Herod even if it resulted in his decollation or beheading.” Herod was the king who ordered John killed for the Baptist’s criticism of the king’s corruption and lecherous lifestyle.
The village’s celebration of the feast day was live-streamed on Facebook.
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