The Dirty Taong Putik (Mud Man) Festival

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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.  Source

 

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In Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, in Barangay Bibiclat, hundreds of devotees of the village’s patron saint, John the Baptist, transform themselves into “mud people” — literally “taong putik.”  The locals call  the ritual Pagsa-San Juan. Outsiders call it the Taong Putik Festival, an event  — an experience — that has recently  caught  the attention and interest of the tourism sector.

Nobody knows exactly when the Taong Putik Festival started. One legend says the image of the patron saint which was brought to Bibiclat by early Ilocano settlers, helped in driving away poisonous snakes from the village. The name “Bibiclat” came from the Ilocano word “biclat” meaning snake.  Another legend says that when Japanese soldiers during World War II were about to execute all the men in the village in retaliation for the death of 13 fellow soldiers, it rained so hard that the male villagers had to be herded into the church to seek shelter. After a while, the Japanese soldiers had a change of mind and set their captives free. The residents attributed this to a miracle of Saint John the Baptist, and  vowed to pay homage to him on his feast day by wearing costumes patterned after his attire — this time, using native materials.  Source

 

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While everyone else in the country is throwing water balloons and splashing each other with buckets of water, the people of Aliaga, Nueva Ecija celebrate the feast of Saint John the Baptist differently. As a form of ritualistic thanksgiving, farmers and devotees cover themselves in mud and dried leaves at dawn. “Mud people” or “taong putik,” as they are called roam the streets while begging for alms at each house. They converge at the town’s church to celebrate the town’s patron saint and give thanks for the season’s harvest.  Source

 

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