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4 Fun Ways Filipinos Celebrate John the Baptist’s Birthday

From donning mud to dousing waters, Filipinos sure know how to celebrate!

For residents of San Juan City, Metro Manila, June 24 marks not just the birthday of its patron saint, St. John the Baptist, but also the town’s unique way of celebrating the annual event.

Inspired by St. John the Baptist’s role as the man who baptized Jesus Christ and others in the River Jordan, San Juan City’s event, known as Wattah Wattah or Basaan Festival, sees locals dousing passersby and vehicles with water—all in good fun, of course! (Read: ‘Religious festivals can resume but strict guidelines should be followed’ – CBCP)

Read on for four other unique and fun ways Filipinos celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist!

Lechon Feast in Batangas

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Photo from primer.com.ph

Other parts of the Philippines have their own version of celebrating St. John the Baptist’s birthday. In Balayan, Batangas, residents hold a Parada ng Lechon where pigs are roasted on a spit before they are brought to the Immaculate Conception church for blessing. As the roast pigs are paraded on the streets of Balayan, revelers douse the parade’s participants with water and are free to eat servings of lechon. (Read: Love lechon? Here are four fun facts about this Pinoy favorite!)

Mud Parade in Nueva Ecija

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Devotees carry a statue of Saint John the Baptist while celebrating the feast day of their Catholic patron saint in the village of Bibiclat, Nueva Ecija, Philippines (Photo from Reuters / IBTimes UK)

In Bibiclat, Nueva Ecija, locals celebrate June 24 by dressing up as taong putik (mud people). Covered entirely in mud from the rice fields and donning cloaks made of torn banana leaves, twigs, and vines, these people who emulate St. John the Baptist would walk barefoot from house to house, begging for candles or alms to purchase candles. They would then assemble at the community parish to light the candles and pray. (Read: A Prayer to St. John the Baptist)

Water Party in Cavite

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Photo from Proud Caviteñ

Cavite’s celebration of St. John the Baptist’s birthday begins one week earlier, with a number of events leading up to the big day. On June 24, Caviteños gladly get themselves doused in water in a lively street parade of music and dancing. Called Regada, the name is from the Spanish word regar, meaning to water or sprinkle. 

Boats Galore in Bulacan and Mindoro

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A fluvial procession of well-decorated pagodas is held on the river every 23rd of June right before the annual town fiesta in honor of St. John the Baptist. Townfolks gaily sing, dance and frenzily douse water to “baptize” passers-by – prepare to get wet. (Photo by EL J Cortez / Flickr)

Calumpit, Bulacan, and Pola, Oriental Mindoro, mark St. John the Baptist’s birthday in a similar fashion—with a fluvial parade! In Bulacan, locals ride colorfully decorated bancas along the river for what is known as the Libad Festival—a tourist attraction that is scheduled on the eve of the saint’s feast day. Meanwhile, In Oriental Mindoro, the statue of St. John the Baptist is borrowed from the church and paraded in a street procession before it is loaded in a decorated boat. Locals dressed in native costumes gamely splash each other with water while cheering “Viva San Bautista!” 

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