Taong Putik Festival

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The Taong Putik Festival is an annual feast held every June in Bibiclat, Nueva Ecija where devotees soak themselves in mud and cover their body with dried banana leaves to celebrate the Feast of Saint John the Baptist.

The coating of mud and leaves is an act of humility and penance. According to some elders in the town, this festival is an emulation of the prophet’s role to the life of Jesus Christ, where he has to hide himself to be able to baptize the Son of God. Most of St. John’s appearances in the Bible are dressed like a beggar or wearing animal skin to disguise around people who’s after his head.


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History and Background

A legend says that the image of Saint John the Baptist was brought to Bibiclat by early Ilocano settlers. It helped drive away poisonous snakes from the village.

Another legend says that since 1944, there is a popular tale in Bibiclat which tells that Japanese soldiers were about to execute all the suspected guerillas in the town of Bibiclat because they have killed 13 Japanese soldiers. The relatives of the suspects went to the church to pray. While praying, it rained hard and the Japanese stopped the squad to set the guarillas free. The villagers danced in joy and played in the mud, thankful for saving their locals. Residents attributed this miracle to Saint John the Baptist and vowed to pay homage to him on his feast day by wearing costumes patterned after his attire but by using native materials.


Activities

The ritual of the feast starts at the dawn of June 24. All the devotees will cover themselves in mud and dried leaves and vines. The Taong Putik (mud men) will ask for alms and candles from the people. Candles will be offered in the church at the 7:00 A.M. mass. Devotees are also called as “San Juan” or “Nag-sa-San Juan” by the folks of Aliaga because of their effort to imitate Saint John the Baptist. A special mass follows, then a procession. The Taong Putik must attend all of the said activities. They may only wash themselves afterwards to symbolize their rebirth. They will dress themselves up and partake the food, drinks, music, and joyful celebration of the festival.


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Citation

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