The day starts earlier than the alarming sound of crowing roosters. After a few sips of warm coffee, the Taong Putik or Mud Man is off to the fields.
Motorcycle headlights and dim street lights illuminate vast lands clothed in darkness as the Taong Putik searches for wet and frigid soil to cover the skin, then topped off with dried banana leaves stitched together.
The sun has yet to rise.
The mud men start to walk along the streets of Aliaga, off from house to house then to the church.
Town folks give alms and candles to devotees who visit their homes and pass them by the streets. The mud men then offer prayers to St. John the Baptist on his feast day, as it is believed that the saint performed miracles to protect the people.
Hundreds gather to celebrate mass to give thanks to the saint who saved the town folks from the firing squad during the Japanese regime as rain poured heavily, forcing to halt the execution. Others pray for good harvest throughout the year and good health of family members.
Covering themselves with mud on June 24, as what the saint may have done in his lifetime, is only a simple way to celebrate life.
I also did a photo essay on the personal tale of a mud man: http://www.pacifiqa.com/news/mud-men-personal-tale-taong-putik-festival-2014/