HomeDiocesan ReportsReligious ‘Balyuan’ in central Philippines cancelled due to pandemic

Religious ‘Balyuan’ in central Philippines cancelled due to pandemic

The “Balyuan,” an annual exchange of images of the Child Jesus between the city of Tacloban and the town of Basey in the central Philippines, has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Church and government officials decided not to hold the traditional ritual, which was supposed to take place on June 20, following the surge of cases of the new coronavirus disease.

Masses in honor of the Child Jesus of Tacloban will, however, continue as the city prepares for its annual “fiesta” celebration on June 30.

The “Balyuan” is a special religious celebration for Tacloban, the largest city in the Eastern Visayas, and the smaller nearby town of Basey just across the border of Samar Province.

Only eight kilometers apart but separated by the San Juanico Bridge, these two parishes usually mark the day with a traditional exchange of images of the Santo Nino, or infant Jesus.

The annual event started in the mid-18th century when the people of Tacloban – then part of Basey – and the nearby village of Buscada exchanged their Santo Nino images.

The “Balyuan” ritual also marks the start of the first day of the nine-day prayer and Mass in honor of the Sr. Sto. Nino de Tacloban.

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