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Reasons Why Bantayan Island is Dubbed as "Lenten Capital of the Visayas"

Bantayan Island is located in the northernmost point of the island-province of Cebu. It is composed of three municipalities but why is it dubbed as the "Lenten Capital of the Visayas."


The island is composed of three municipalities but one of the most interesting part of being called as the capital of the Lenten Season in the Visayas Group of Islands is it's unique way of celebrating the Holy Week.



It is indeed unique celebration in Bantayan Island during the entire Holy Week, while the whole country is silently praying, reflecting, and fasting during the Lenten Season, the island in northern Cebu crowd the streets, organize parties, and do a range of activities.

Relatives and friends from different parts of the country took time to enjoy their stay in Bantayan Island during the Lenten season, it is also a good time for all the families to organize reunions. Relatives from as far as Manila and those who are abroad took time to schedule their Bantayan vacation during the Holy Week season.

According to the history of Bantayan, the island was granted a papal permission in 1880's exempting the entire island from doing abstinence in eating pork. Based on recorded history of one of the oldest parish in the Philippines, the Saints Peter and Paul Parish, residents of the island were allowed and exempted by the Pope to eat Pork during the Holy Week because it is the only available means of foods in the island.

Fishing which is one of the oldest industry in the island were halted during the Holy Week so the parish leaderships were forced to allow fishermen to eat pork because they were ordered to attend to church activities during the Holy Week.


This is most likely the reason behind the island's activities and festivities during the Holy Week. One of the island's Holy Week highlights is the grand Good Friday procession that features huge and fabulous carrozas, particularly the image of Santo Entierro, which is believed to be miraculous by Bantayan locals.



Eating pork during the Holy Week is the most unique way of celebrating the Lenten Season in Bantayan Island.

Since Bantayanon (people of Bantayan Island) usually eat ish and other seafoods on most days of the year, they choose to feast on meat during the Lenten Season, and the classic favorite is Cebu's ever-delicious lechon. Exemption from eating pork during the Holy Week is still part of the papal exemption but there are different views of opinions regarding this matter.

Pope Leo VII issued a Papal Indult document stating Bantayanons can eat por during the no-fishing season to let all the people of Bantayan to focus on their religious activities during the entire Holy Week festivities.



There are reports also that in some parts of the country they thought that the Holy Week celebration in Bantayan Island is the town Fiesta of the island but this is indeed fake news, the town fiesta of Bantayan is celebrated every June 29 and not during the Holy Week.





Source: Saint Peter & Paul Parish Museum / Facebook

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