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EXPLAINER: Holy Week in Bantayan is not ‘fiesta’

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | March 29,2024 - 10:22 AM

Bantayan Holy Week Fiesta. Bantayan town does not celebrate its fiesta during the Holy Week -- this is a myth that has been debunked by the LGU. | CDN Digital file photo

Bantayan town does not celebrate its fiesta during the Holy Week — this is a myth that has been debunked by the LGU. | CDN Digital file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Contrary to popular notion, the town of Bantayan in northern Cebu does not celebrate its fiesta during Holy Week.

In fact, both its local governments and the Roman Catholic church there work hand-in-hand in debunking this myth and remind guests that, like other predominantly Catholic areas in the world, they too observe the most sacred week in the Liturgical calendar in a solemn manner.

But how did this belief come about, and what’s the real story behind it? In this article, CDN Digital has run down the facts explaining this ‘centuries-old, fake news.’


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Exception from abstaining pork

The belief that Bantayan holds a fiesta every Holy Week may have stemmed from a Papal Indult that has long since expired.

The indult granted Bantayan exception from abstaining pork during Lent as the fishing town usually consumes fish and other seafood throughout the year.

An indult is defined as “a license granted by the Pope authorizing an act that the common law of the Roman Catholic Church does not sanction.”

The one for Bantayan is believed to have been issued by Pope Leo XII in 1824.

Historians said that the late pope granted Bantayan the indult through its late parish priest, Doroteo Andrada del Rosario III.

Originally meant to last for a decade only, the Catholic church extended its effectivity until 1853.

In turn, Bantayanons were allowed to eat pork during Lent for nearly three decades.

As years went by, some locals may have simply forgotten or opted to carry on with it — a development that led historians to believe may have been the root of the misconception that Bantayan celebrates fiesta every Holy Week.


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Intended for one person only?

Recently, historians and experts raised another possibility behind the myth surrounding Bantayan’s apparent exemption from abstaining pork.

New translations of the Papal Indult seemed to have stated that the document itself may have been intended for one person only – and that is the former parish priest del Rosario.

A fact supporting this theory is that the Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol, or formerly known as the Saints Peter and Paul Parish church, possesses a third-class copy of the famous indult.

This means that somebody may have replicated the original one issued by the Vatican for del Rosario himself.

According to local experts in Bantayan, the leader of the Roman Catholic church then may have granted del Rosario the indult for his contributions and support in the Holy Crusade.

Bantayan Parish Museum

The Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol is one of the Philippines’ oldest churches, and is approximately more than 400 years old. It is also both a symbol and a testament to Bantayan’s rich and colorful history.

Aside from its iconic Dibuho Kisame, an elaborate, ‘visual catechism about the love and mercy of Jesus Christ’ painted on the church’s ceilings, the heritage church is also known for housing the Bantayan Parish Museum.

There, guests will get to see up-close valuable, religious artifacts from Bantayan, including the third-class copy of the Papal Indult.

The museum itself was opened not only to preserve the church’s heritage but also to debunk the centuries-old “fake news” that Bantayan celebrates fiestas in the Holy Week. 

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TAGS: Bantayan, fiesta, Holy Week

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