San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora announced on Wednesday that the city will continue to celebrate its annual “Wattah Wattah” Festival tomorrow, June 24, amid the COVID-19 pandemic but minus the traditional dousing of water on passersby and motorists.
Zamora issued Executive Order No.84 which prohibits the traditional “basaan” or dousing of water during the festival to avoid the risk of contamination and prevent the possible spread of the virus, similar to what was practiced by the LGU last year.
Instead, the image of St. John the Baptist, the city’s patron saint, will be paraded along the streets of the city with priests joining the parade to bless the faithful.
“Bukas na po Hunyo 24, Huwebes, ang pinakaaabangang selebrasyon sa ating lungsod, ang kapistahan ni San Juan Bautista. Ngunit dahil nasa gitna pa rin po tayo ng pandemya, ay isang taimtim na ‘Basbasan Sa Makabagong San Juan’ ang ating isasagawa imbes na ‘Basaan’ (Tomorrow, June 24, Thursday is the most anticipated celebration of our city, the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. However, due to the pandemic, we are going to have a solemn celebration of ‘Basbasan Sa Makabagong San Juan’ instead of the traditional ‘Basaan’),” Zamora said.
The city government urged its residents stay in their residence or at the front yards to witness the parade and the blessing. Physical distancing must be observed and everyone is reminded to wear face masks.
“There’s no way we can let the occasion pass without revering and honoring our patron saint despite the pandemic, although a little less colorful and lively as we have to suspend temporarily our traditional ‘basaan’ and street dancing, the essence of St. John’s inspiration to the San Juaneños remains with us,” Zamora said.
“This year’s celebration is also our way of thanksgiving for the city’s steady downward trend in COVID-19 cases and for all the San Juaneños who have been part of the efforts in our fight against COVID-19”, he added.
As of Tuesday, San Juan City has recorded only 72 active cases and has already reached 66 percent of its vaccination target or a total of 56,296 San Juaneños inoculated as of June 22.
Zamora reminded residents that the celebration on Thursday, June 24, is not considered a special non-working holiday.