Different Ways Filipinos Celebrate the Feast of St. John the Baptist
Lory Joyce Andagan | June 24, 2020
The birth of Saint John the Baptist is one of the most- celebrated feasts in the Roman Catholic church. Saint John the Baptist is the one who baptized Jesus in Jordan River. Associated with water, the feat of the saint is always commemorated with the biggest celebration all over the Philippines.
Nueva Ecija celebrates the feast of St. John the Baptist in its own special way. Though they do not drench themselves in water as is the tradition is different areas, devotees would smear themselves with mud and in dry banana leaves to emulate the saint who disguised himself to hide from the people who want to kill him for being the chosen one to baptize Jesus. During the ceremony, devotees proceed to the church for a thanksgiving mass followed by the lighting of candles and procession. Locals believed that the more candles they light, the more chances their prayers will be heard.
In Balayan Batangas, the Parada ng Lechon (Roasted pig parade) is celebrated. Decorated lechons will be brought to the patio of the church of Immaculate Concepcion during the mass commemorating the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. Merrymaking follows the eucharistic celebration, with participants splashing water on one another to signify the baptism of Christ by St. John the Baptist. Bystanders are free to take a piece of lechon while on parade doused with water.
Photo Courtesy of Nelson Biscocho Jr.
In San Juan City, the Wattah Wattah or the Traditional Basaan Festival is celebrated yearly. In the past, the city established El Deposito, a water reservoir. As the capital source of water back then, San Juan City honors St. John the Baptist and celebrates Basaan Festival. The celebration is a thanksgiving for the abundance of water in the place. Locals would parade and doused themselves of water. A mass is done early in the morning followed by the dousing of water on the streets. Firetrucks are being placed in the streets and splash the water to those who participate in the parade.
People in the Visayas also celebrate the feast of St. John the Baptist. In Sara, Iloilo, the Sulay Basya Festival is anticipated every year. Sulay is an Ilonggo word mean to get wet and Basya means to douse with water. An early mass is held and street dance comes after with the samba music. In the afternoon, everyone gathers on the streets waiting for the go signal to start the parade. Everyone dons their battle gears: a sprinkle, pail, and dipper or anything that carries water ready to splash it to everyone. By the end of it, firetrucks are placed in designated areas to sprinkle water all over the place.
Photo Courtesy of Vaguing Juarez
Other Filipinos would go to the beach to swim or line up in front of their houses, waiting for any bystander to splash them with water. No one is allowed to complain. It’s a celebration of life and Christianity. Dousing yourself with water signifies being baptized.
This year, however, will be different. Because of COVID- 19, no one is allowed to go on the streets and party by splashing with water. But what is more important during this celebration is the faith of every Filipinos that St. John the Baptist will help us win this battle. Through Him, God will heal our land and will let have many more Feast of St. John the Baptist.