BY RUBY P. SILUBRICO and GLENDA TAYONA
ILOILO City – The Guimaras Police Provincial Office (GPPO) has monitored no threats to the “Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid” which would be staged on Good Friday, April 19.
Now on its 44th year, “Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid” in Jordan, Guimaras is an open-air passion play on the death of Jesus Christ.
“We assure the pilgrims that they are safe,” said Police Colonel Julio Gustilo, GPPO director.
Anticipating a surge in the number of pilgrims beginning Maundy Thursday (April 18) the GPPO is mobilizing 500 security personnel plus force multipliers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine Coast Guard.
Several police assistance centers would also be set up.
For his part, PCG Iloilo commander Lieutenant Colonel Rodlfo Dela Peña warned motorboat operators against overcharging passengers crossing to Guimaras from Iloilo City.
The coastguard is also on the lookout for colorum or franchise-less motorboats.
“We will also make sure there is no overloading of passengers,” said Dela Peña.
He urged the public to report to the coastguard erring motorboat operators.
For medical emergencies, Jordan’s Municipal Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office and Philippine Red Cross have teams on standby.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s Mayor Ruben Corpuz appealed to spectators not to litter trash. The local government would be providing garbage bags where trash should be deposited, he stressed.
“Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid”, expected to run for three hours from 12 noon to 3 p.m., has evolved from being a stage play to a street drama. It starts with the triumphant approach of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem portrayed at the plaza in Jordan’s Barangay Poblacion, and ends with “Pieta” at the highest point of Guimaras at the Balaan Bukid Shrine in Barangay Balcon Melliza.
“Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid” has over 100 actors in period costumes followed by devotees as they walk for more than two kilometers passing 14 Stations of the Cross before reaching the mountain top.
“Pagtaltal” in Hiligaynon means “to remove” thus the street drama ends with the removal of crucified Jesus Christ from the cross and laid before the arms of His grieving mother Mary.
The coastguard is enforcing the “no sticker, no trip” policy on motorboats to ensure the safety of pilgrims.
It started inspecting motorboats on April 15 at Iloilo City’s Ortiz wharf. Only those that met with all the safety requirements (such as load line marks, accommodation ladder, anchor, safety nets, lifejackets and fire extinguishers, among others) were issued with stickers.
“Those with no stickers won’t be allowed to leave the wharf,” said Dela Peña./PN