San Juan City’s “Wattah Wattah” Festival in 2019. PNA photo by Oliver Marquez

San Juan City today celebrated the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist without the traditional water dousing, but with a parade, or specifically, a convoy of vehicles that paraded the image of St. John the Baptist in the different barangays of the city. 

Instead of “basaan” (water dousing), priests made do with sprinkling of holy water to the residents.

Since the city is still under general community quarantine (GCQ), San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora called on residents to stay in their home premises, observe social distancing, and wear face masks during the celebration.

“San Juan City is considered the ground zero of COVID-19 in the country, but we have made huge headways in our fight against the virus. I don’t want the collective effort and sacrifices of our beloved San Juanenos and our frontliners to be for naught,” said Zamora.

To celebrate its fiesta, San Juan City usually had the Wattah Wattah Festival or Basaan Festival held every June 24.

The tradition of dousing water on the residents is to commemorate the birth of St. John the Baptist, a popular figure in the Bible who cleansed and prepared the people for the coming of Jesus Christ by baptizing them in water.  

The celebration involved residents of San Juan who lined up the streets and generously douse passersby or unsuspecting commuters and visitors with water. The dousing of water supposedly reminds them of their baptism. 

Residents too enjoyed engaging in water wars and other wet games using dippers, pails, hoses and even water pistols. 

It is the belief that a splash or sprinkle of water will bring God’s blessings.

It is not only in San Juan City where the feast of St. John the Baptist is celebrated. The feast is also celebrated in Balayan, Batangas, Calumpit, Bulacan, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, and Cavite City.