Friday, June 25, 2010

Taong Putik Festival 2010

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Who would have forgotten the horror movie starred by Kris Aquino and Claudine Barreto, Sukod. The movie actually gave me the reason to become fascinated with the festival. Or is it the other way around? If you watch the movie, you’ll see some characters covered with dried tree leaves and twigs and their bodies covered with mud. In Barangay Bibiclat of Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, they are known as Taong Putik.

Taong Putik Festival is celebrated every June 24 in honor of the town’s patron saint, San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist). Though in the catholic community, the Feast of San Juan Bautista is celebrated by engaging themselves in revelry of dousing each other with water. In Aliaga the feast is celebrated differently. This makes the it unique and fascinating.

At the break of dawn, locals daub themselves with dried leaves and mud in preparation for the Feast of San Juan. These people are called Taong Putik (Mud People). The ritual on the other hand is called pagsa-San Juan. The ritual is said to imitate St. John the Baptist disguises by wearing animal skin to hide his identity when baptizing Christ. This is to deceive the people who were after his head.

The mud people roam around the streets, stopping house to house, and approaching people asking for alms or candles. The Taong Putik will then converge at the church’s plaza and offer the alms and candles to their patron as a form of gratitude for the blessings showered onto them. A solemn outdoor mass and procession will follow.

Coverage and Travel Tips:
- This is a very solemn event.
- If you are a photographer or journalist, make sure that you will not disrupt its solemnity.
- Expect to get a little muddy. Mud people are everywhere. You'll just find yourself standing beside one. 
- The event starts very early. It usually starts with an early morning mass to be followed by a solemn procession. It ends around 8-8:30AM depending on the procession flow. However, masses for St. John the Baptist will go on the entire day.
- Bring 1 peso coins or buy candles. Just in case mud people will approach you, you have something to offer them. It is rumored that when you don't give them alms or candles, they'll wipe you with mud. 

Getting to Aliaga:
- At the bus terminals in Cubao, you can ride a bus going to Cabanatuan and another bus ride from Cabanatuan to Aliaga. 

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