Wattah Wattah Festival

Last updated
Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Official name Wattah Wattah Festival
Also called Basaan Festival
Observed by Filipinos
Significance Feast of St. John the Baptist
Date 24 June
Frequency Annual

Wattah Wattah Festival or Basaan Festival (literally: dousing of water) is the feast of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of San Juan, Metro Manila, and of many other communities throughout the Philippines, held every 24 June.

Literal translation, direct translation, or word-for-word translation is the rendering of text from one language to another one word at a time with or without conveying the sense of the original whole.

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Filipinos commemorate the birth of Saint John, who cleansed and prepared the people for the coming of Jesus Christ by baptizing them with water. Along with the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, John the Baptist’s birthday is the only one celebrated; most other saints are remembered on the day of their death or some other important date.

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Matthew 3:11 quotes Saint John as saying: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire."

Children and grown-ups alike line up the streets and generously douse passersby or unsuspecting commuters and visitors with water, with the traditional “basaan” or "buhusan" (dousing of water)- supposedly to remind them of their baptism. They also enjoy engaging in water wars and other wet games using dippers, pails, hoses and even water pistols. Older persons my fill their ancient coconut shells with perfumed water to sprinkle on passersby. In rural areas, people take a swim at the beach, in a nearby river, or at a local spring, believing that a little exposure to water today, even just a sprinkle or splash, will bring God's blessings. This popular custom is practiced as they recall San Juan's life and mission. That is why in some places, passing buses, cars, and jeeps become the targets of water splashed and thrown about with reckless gusto.

Unfortunately, the tradition is being threatened by killjoys or local bullies who douse car owners or jeepney riders with water from open ditches. Their actions have made others question the very idea of the festivity.

Filipinos from different parts of the country celebrate this feast in various ways. Four of the most popular celebrations can be witnessed in Balayan, Batangas, Calumpit, Bulacan, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, Cavite City, Cavite and in San Juan, Metro Manila.

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