IN PHOTOS: The 'taong putik' of Nueva Ecija
NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – The feast of Saint John the Baptist, synonymous with bathing unwary people with water, is celebrated in a unique and indigenous ritual in the town of Bibiclat.
At dawn, men and women, young and old alike, gather at nearby rice fields. They spread mud all over their faces and bodies, and wear a cloak made from torn banana leaves, twigs, and vines to emulate John the Baptist's appearance when he baptized Christ. They transform themselves into "taong putik" (mud people).
Barefoot, they roam the streets of Bibiclat. They go from house to house asking for alms in the form of candles, or cash with which to buy candles.
They all converge in the town's church to light candles and pray.
The Catholic Church emphasizes the religious significance of the event as Holy Mass is celebrated with the devotees.
After the Mass, as part of their devotion, a simple procession follows, parading the town's patron saint.
Originally, the locals called the ritual "Pagsa-San Juan," but nobody remembers when exactly the tradition started.
Here are the highlights of Bibiclat's taong putik tradition as celebrated on Sunday, June 24: