ILOILO City – “No sticker, no trip.”
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is enforcing this policy this Holy Week. Its targets are the 52 Jordan, Guimaras-bound motorboats from this city.
The coastguard expects a surge in Lent pilgrims crossing the Iloilo Strait to Guimaras.
Guimaras is a popular destination of Holy Week pilgrims, specifically Balaan Bukid, a mountain located in Barangay Balcon Melliza, Jordan. This site has a church and a huge cross which can be seen from Iloilo City. Along the trail to the top are 14 Stations of the Cross which recall significant events in the passion of Christ.
PCG started inspecting motorboats yesterday at the Ortiz wharf here. 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 PCG -Iloilo commander Lieutenant Colonel Rodolfo Dela Peña. “This is very important. We want to make sure passengers are safe.”
The number of pilgrims to Guimaras is expected to peak this April 18 (Holy Thursday) and April 19 (Good Friday).
On Friday, the annual “Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid” – a passion play relieving the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ – would be staged in Jordan.
On regular days, Balaan Bukid can be accessed by riding a motorboat from the Ortiz wharf in Iloilo City to the Jordan wharf.
From Jordan wharf, people usually take a tricycle ride to the foot of Balaan Bukid./PN