FAITH BLENDS WITH TOURISM
100,000 expected in ‘Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid’
BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA
ILOILO City – The Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 6 expects not less than 100,000 devotees and tourists to visit the island-province of Guimaras to see the famous Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid on Good Friday.
Pagtaltal, now on its 38th year, is the annual reenactment of the passion and death of Christ.
It has been compared to Germany’s world-renowned Oberammergau Passion Play – a staging of Jesus’ passion, covering the short final period of his life from his visit to Jerusalem, leading to his execution by crucifixion.
Each year, the crowd of foreign and domestic tourists watching Pagtaltal gets bigger, observed Tourism regional director Helen Catalbas.
Traffic is expected to build up at the Ortiz wharf here where tourists converge to take passenger boats sailing to Guimaras.
The tourists’ traditional line stretches to the University of Iloilo, starting from 5 a.m.
It could take up to three hours of waiting before they could board the motor boats, Catalbas said.
Penitents and devotees do not mind the discomfort, stressed Catalbas, because it’s part of their their panata (sacred oath) that culminates in climbing the mountain top of the province known as Balaan Bukid every Good Friday.
Catalbas said DOT, together with the municipalities of Jordan and Buenavista and the provincial government of Guimaras, had devised ways to decongest the Ortiz crowd.
They had recommended to Pagtaltal goers to take the Buenavista route via Parola wharf and take land trip going to Balaan Bukid where the Lenten presentation of Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid will take place.
The Guimaras Police Provincial Office (GPPO) headed by Senior Supt. Ricardo De La Paz had also come up with security measures to contain the influx of tourists at the Jordan wharf.
He said they had coordinated with Iloilo City Police Office with regard to the traffic on Ortiz wharf.
De La Paz said the police had organized command posts, police assistance centers, medical team, communication group and force multiplier.
The Pagtaltal has evolved from being a stage play to a street drama of Christ’s passion. Under the scorching heat of the sun, more than 130 characters followed by devotees have to walk for more than two kilometers passing 14 Stations of the Cross before reaching the Balaan Bukid.
The theatrical presentation starts with the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem, staged at what is being claimed to be the world’s smallest plaza in Jordan’s Brgy. Poblacion, and ends with the “Pieta” at the highest point of Guimaras – the Balaan Bukid Shrine in Brgy. Balcon Melliza.
Pagtaltal in the vernacular means “to remove.” Thus the street drama ends with the removal of Jesus from the cross to the arms of Mary, his mother./PN