Most festivals of St. John the Baptist are about drenching from water and getting wet on the streets. If you want to witness a festival on June 24 and you don’t want to get wet while watching, you should visit the Nueva Ecija’s Taong Putik Festival. This is held on barangay Biblicat in Aliaga, a travel of four and a half hours from Manila by land.
Early morning on the day of June 24, residents are covered with mud and dressed with dried banana or coconut leaves and vines. Men, women and even children are joining this festival. They go from a house to another to ask for candles or even money to buy candles. If rejected, they will wipe mud on the face of person who doesn’t give anything. After collecting candles from different houses, participants gather around the plaza and light the candles. They will offer prayers for thanksgiving and show their gratefulness on the blessing bestowed by their patron Saint John the Baptist. This is followed by an outdoor mass to bless the day of the festival.
Different government officials, local and foreign tourists and even celebrities travel to witness this celebration. The image of Saint John the Baptist will roam the barangay carried on shoulders by chosen devoted men. A group of musician forming a band on full costume will play musical scoring while the image of the saint is being carried around the town. The costume of these mud men, who are the center of attraction of this festival, are said to be a resemblance of Saint John’s attire when he baptized Jesus Christ. The costumes are made from indigenous materials.
However weird and unique festival the Taong Putik may look, the values and preparation for this is exceptional. This kind of celebration is criticized by others. According to them, it is more of a pagan festival and not a catholic way of giving thanks to saints. But the churchmen of Nueva Ecija give credits to this incredible and different way of patronizing Saint John the Baptist. The people and the church both agree on the way the festival goes. The important thing is that you are part of the festival and you have fun celebrating it.
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