ALIAGA, NUEVA ECIJA, PHILIPPINES — Although not as festive as other festivals in the country, the oddity of “pagsa-San Juan” makes Taong Putik Festival interesting enough. The solemn tradition is held every 24th dawn of June in Brgy. Bibiclat in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija in honor of their patron saint, St. John the Baptist.
WHAT IS A TAONG PUTIK?
Taong Putik, literally means “mud person”. As early as 4:00 am every June 24, the villagers of Brgy. Bibiclat in Aliaga (Nueva Ecija, Philippines) would flock the rice paddies to coat themselves with thin mud, green vines and dry banana leaves before walking to the church, and begging for candles (or money to buy them) along the way. Through this process, they’d become a taong putik. It might look creepy, but it is actually an interesting religious practice.
Early morning on the day of June 24, residents are covered with mud and dressed with dried banana or coconut leaves and vines. Men, women and even children are joining this festival. They go from a house to another to ask for candles or even money to buy candles. If rejected, they will wipe mud on the face of person who doesn’t give anything. After collecting candles from different houses, participants gather around the plaza and light the candles. They will offer prayers for thanksgiving and show their gratefulness on the blessing bestowed by their patron Saint John the Baptist. This is followed by an outdoor mass to bless the day of the festival. - http://www.traveltothephilippines.info/2012/12/05/witness-and-be-amazed-at-the-nueva-ecija-taong-putik-mud-man-festival/
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. - http://monvalmonte.com/nuevaecijajournal/taongputik/index.html