Devotees celebrate pre-Balyuan rites, honoring Santo Niño de Tacloban

Devotees celebrate pre-Balyuan rites, honoring Santo Niño de Tacloban

Devotees of Santo Nino de Tacloban traveled to Basey Town, 8 kilometers away, to honor the historic exchange of Santo Niño images. Photo: Brgy. Buscada/Facebook

TACLOBAN CITY – In anticipation of the highly awaited Balyuan Rites on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, Santo Niño de Tacloban devotees embarked on an 8-kilometer pilgrimage to Basey Town. This sacred ceremony serves as a precursor to the grand event and pays homage to the historical exchange of Santo Niño images between Tacloban and the neighboring Samar town.

On Friday, June 16, a convoy set off at 7:00 am, carrying the revered image of El Teniente—a replica of Santo Niño de Tacloban. The image was accompanied by esteemed church officials, city officials, and dedicated employees. As they arrived in Brgy. Buscada in Basey, the faithful and the Basey National High School band warmly welcomed the delegation from Tacloban, creating an atmosphere of joy and reverence.

A Holy Mass was held at the centuries-old Buscada Church, led by Sto. Niño Parish Priest Erleto Maraya, along with priests from the Basey Parish Church. Tacloban City Government Officials, including Acting Tourism Officer Ma. Lumen Tabao representing Mayor Alfred Romualdez, and Basey Town Mayor Luz Chu-Ponferrada were present, adding to the solemnity of the ceremony.

The highlight of the upcoming event will be the Balyu-an Rites at the Balyu-an Amphitheater on June 20, where the image of El Teniente will be returned to Tacloban in a magnificent fluvial procession. This religious custom, known as "Balyu-an" or exchange, traces its roots back to the time when Tacloban, formerly known as Kankabatok, was a humble Sitio of Basey Town.

In recognition of Kankabatok's transformation into a thriving community, the Spanish parish priest of Basey initiated the exchange of Sto. Niño images. As part of the exchange, Buscada received a smaller image while Kankabatok was presented with a larger and more captivating one. To honor their shared heritage and devotion to the Holy Child, the local governments of Tacloban and Basey continue this tradition each year.

The nine-day novena mass for Tacloban's 134th Fiesta Celebration will commence with the 48th Balyu-an rites on Tuesday. It is an invitation to all to join in the festivities as the city embraces its rich cultural heritage and celebrates the enduring spirit of faith and unity.

The Balyuan Rites hold deep significance for the people of Tacloban, as it symbolizes their unwavering devotion and the enduring bond between their city and Basey. This annual celebration not only commemorates their shared history but also reminds them of the power of faith and unity in bringing communities together. —iTacloban (with reports from CIO)

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