'Wattah Wattah' dries up due to virus as San Juan marks feast with prayer

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2020 12:03 PM

MANILA -- San Juan City on Wednesday marked the feast of John the Baptist without dousing revelers and commuters with water to observe coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Instead, city officials paraded an image of Jesus Christ's cousin on board a truck decorated with flowers. Mayor Francis Zamora said witnessing the procession should be considered a blessing in lieu of getting wet.

"Huwag muna sana tayo lalabas ng bahay, huwag muna tayo mag basaan ngayong taon. We are hoping and praying this pandemic will end soon, para yung traditional na basaan magawa natin ulit,” he said.

(Let's not go outside our homes for now, let's not do the dousing this year. We are hoping and praying this pandemic will end soon, so that we can do the traditional blessing again.)

Past editions of the "Wattah Wattah" festival were marked with street parties, water guns, water bombs and cold showers from fire trucks.

For 17 years, the festival has been a tradition for San Juan residents, celebrating the birthday of St. John the Baptist who baptized Jesus Christ.

Under general community quarantine guidelines, mass gatherings are still prohibited. On Tuesday, Zamora urged residents to celebrate the feast inside their homes and observe physical distancing.

Only 10 individuals will be allowed to attend the mass at the St John the Baptist church Wednesday.

Aside from a ban on water dousing, a liquor ban was also set from 12:01 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday. Under the GCQ, San Juan allowed the liquor consumption, as long as it is not done in public places.

San Juan City as of Tuesday reported 336 COVID-19 cases, with 209 recoveries and 44 deaths, according to the Department of Health.

The Philippines has so far tallied 31,825 cases of infection, with 1,186 deaths and 8,442 recoveries.