PREPARED FOR PILGRIMS. The municipality of Jordan in Guimaras is ready for the influx of visitors who will witness the annual 'Pagtaltal' and are going on a pilgrimage to the Balaan Bukid this Holy Week. Now on its 44th year, the 'Pagtaltal' depicts the life of Jesus Christ. (File photo)
ILOILO CITY -- The municipality of Jordan in Guimaras is ready to welcome pilgrims and visitors arriving for the annual “Pagtaltal” or the pilgrimage to the Balaan Bukid.
Now on its 44th year, the “Pagtaltal” depicts the life of Jesus Christ, who offered His life for us, Bartolome Togonon, executive director of the Pagtaltal Foundation Inc., said during a press conference held at the Jordan municipal hall on Friday. The street presentation is now on its 10th year.
“We hold this every Holy Week to remind us that this month, we, as Christians, should reflect, one way or another,” he said.
This year, the organizer has identified four areas for the stage play.
It will start from the world’s smallest plaza, next will be in front of the municipal hall, the third area is at the Roll-on/Roll-off wharf and will end at the Balaan Bukid shrine.
The plaza on Guimaras Island has once earned the title of the smallest plaza in the Guinness Book of World Records., although it has remained as the smallest plaza in the Philippines with an area of about 200 to 300 square meters.
The presentation will start at 10 a.m. and will end at 3 p.m. on Good Friday. The play will cover almost 2 km. starting from the first venue up to the shrine.
In going to Jordan, Guimaras, one has to take a 15-minute pump boat ride from the Ortiz wharf in Iloilo City.
In preparation for the influx of passengers, the Jordan Motorbanca Association has secured a special permit from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for the Ortiz, Iloilo City wharf to Bondolan Point in Balaan Bukid route starting April 15. The regular trip from Ortiz wharf to Jordan wharf continues.
Ernan Gedalanga, operations manager of the Jordan Motor Banca Cooperative, said that MARINA approved the PHP25 fare for the Ortiz, Iloilo City wharf to Bondolan Point in Balaan Bukid. There will be 26 motor bancas plying the one-way route. The trips will start at 5 a.m. until sunset.
The fare for the Ortiz to Jordan wharf route will remain at PHP15 per head.
Meanwhile, Gedalanga said a color code will be adopted to guide passengers on which pump boat to take.
Those who will go directly to the Bondolan Point on Holy Thursday will take pump boats with color blue flaglets and green for the regular. On Good Friday, it will be the reverse.
Meanwhile, Police Col. Julio Gustio, director of the Guimaras Police Provincial Office, said they will deploy more than 500 police personnel and force multipliers to provide security.
“We are 99.9 percent ready. We are still waiting for the 50 personnel coming from the Police Regional Office 6 (Western Visayas) to augment our forces here. We have a sendoff ceremony on April 17 and that’s the time we say we are 101 percent prepared and ready,” he said.
Nonetheless, he urged the cooperation of the public as they eyed the influx of tourists as one challenge. He said that there will be police assistance desks (PADs) to be established in strategic areas.
“Please just don’t bring prohibited items and backpacks. Don’t bring too much cash and other valuables,” he advised.
Mayor Ruben Corpuz, meanwhile, said the local government unit and other concerned offices will be establishing first aid teams for emergency cases. (PNA)