This Good Friday, Balaan Bukid mountain in Barangay Balcon Melliza in the municipality of Jordan in Guimaras will only welcome residents of the province after it was closed in 2020 during the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Balaan Bukid is closed to non-residents of Guimaras. Jordan Mayor Ruben B. Corpuz has released an order to that effect,” said Teresita Siason, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer of Guimaras in a phone interview on Thursday.
Balaan Bukid is a popular destination for religious visits, especially for those joining the “Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid” or the reenactment of the Passion of Christ.
Found at the peak of the mountain are a church and a 60-foot tall cross, which can be seen from the Iloilo City coast, that provides pilgrims space to reflect.
Despite the opening of the Balaan Bukid, the street presentation of the “Pagtaltal” remains suspended.
“Pagtaltal” is the reenactment of the Passion of Christ that entails a more or less 1.7-kilometer trek from the town plaza and ends at the mountain peak passing through the 14 Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross.
“It was only now that the province was placed under Alert Level 1 so they (performers) didn’t have enough time to prepare since they also need to practice,” Siason added.
The province was declared under Alert Level 1 on March 1 this year.
The twin Holy Week attractions in the previous years attracted close to 20,000 tourists and pilgrims.
Back in 2019, Guimaras Tourism Officer Liberty Ferrer said that they were eyeing the title “Lenten Capital” of the region, given their Integrated Lenten Festival celebrations in three municipalities.
Apart from the “Pagtaltal”, they also have “Pamalandong sa Tamborong” in San Lorenzo and the “Worship Festival” in the municipality of Buenavista.
The “Worship Festival” is a celebration on Palm Sunday which is a reenactment of the entry of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem and culminates with another celebration on Black Saturday.
The “Pamalandong sa Tamborong” showcases the “Way of the Cross” with life-sized images.
Except for Balaan Bukid, other destinations are open to vaccinated individuals from outside of the province.
Unvaccinated need to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) result taken 72 hours before travel.
“Tourists can go to our resorts and beaches. We have deployed our response teams to those places,” she said.
Source: Philippines News Agency