Banton is thriving in visitors once more. This seasonal influx of balikbayan Bantoanons happen only once a year when the Holy Week nears. Once again, it's time for that family reunion or high school homecoming that you've been looking forward to the whole year. Families stock up on food supplies to cook on these occasions. Venue and equipment reservations are also made. Shipping companies put additional trips to service the increased volume of passengers. Merchants are smiling once more at the thought of customers buying marble trinkets, banig, palm fans and other products. Stevedores at the pier are just happy that their services will be available once more.
Whether you are a tourist or a Bantoanon balikbayan, a visit to Banton will not be complete without going to get togethers, baylihans and homecomings. Here are some of the happenings on the island this Holy Week:
BNHS ALUMNI HOMECOMING
This annual get-together draws alumni of the Banton National High School to come back to the island every Holy Week. High school classmates, friends and even sweethearts relive their time as students in Banton's premier secondary school. Of course, the event will not be complete without sumptuous food, drinks, dancing, singing and games, sponsored yearly by a graduating batch and managed by the BNHS Alumni Association.
This year's celebration is sponsored by BNHS Batch 2001 and will be held on April 24-26, 2011. There will be a mini-Olympics on the first day, a Barangay Outreach Program on the second, and an Outing and General Assembly on the third. Expect this year's celebration to be a blast!
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
Catholic tradition is very much alive and strong in the island. Just one of the few activities sponsored by the Parish of San Nicolas de Tolentino annually is the Stations of the Cross. Participating families and neighborhoods setup an altar for their assigned station out of tables, palm branches and other decorative items and religious objects. Every morning, the procession starts from the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church which is participated in mostly by the elderly and some devout teens and children. The statue of the Black Nazareno is paraded from the church and stops in every station for prayers. On Good Friday, the procession is graced by 12 men dressed as the 12 apostles of Christ. After the procession, the 12 apostles go house-to-house to pray for the household's prosperity and strength, for just a small donation. The procession happens from Holy Monday to Good Friday.
GOOD FRIDAY PROCESSION
The remembrance of Holy Week in Banton culminates in the procession of the entombed Christ, the dolorous Virgin Mary and his apostles throughout town on the afternoon of Good Friday. The procession begins with a mass at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church where a re-enactment of the passion and death of Christ is held. The entombed Christ is carried out of the church and paraded in the streets by parishioners carrying candles. The parade goes on beyond sunset as all major streets in town are passed through. The sight candle-lit streets is a majestic spectacle to behold.
Visit Banton this Holy Week. It's not just the perfect place to remember Christ's suffering for our sins, it's also the perfect place to look inside ourselves and retrace our roots.