APALIT -- Devotees of this town's patron saint Apung Iru (St. Peter the Apostle) will have to practice their faith in their respective houses as religious activities for this year's fiesta celebration is canceled.

According to Mayor Oscar Tetangco, Jr., no grand festivities will be held during the three-day fiesta celebration set from June 28 to 30 in compliance with the safety protocols set by the Department of Health.

Among the canceled activities are the hourly mass at St. Peter's Parish Church and the fluvial procession of the century-old ivory image of Apung Iru along the Pampanga River.

The procession of Apung Iru along the Pampanga River is one of the most famous activities in town and is attended by thousands of devotees from around Pampanga and different provinces.

Normally, the image is fetched from a house in Barangay Capalangan here on the 28th to be brought to the parish church to be part of the day-long Holy Mass and will be brought back on the 30th.

But this year, Tetangco said the image will stay in Barangay Capalangan, and no devotees will also be allowed to visit.

"We encourage Apaliteños to have a solemn celebration instead to protect ourselves from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Being on general community quarantine does not mean the virus is already gone so extra precautionary measures are still needed," he said.

Tetangco also discouraged individuals who wish to visit Apung Iru or their relatives and friends to postpone their plans as mass gathering is still not allowed.

He stressed that celebration is not banned but only with intimate family members and relatives as much as possible.

"The essence of celebrating the fiesta is to honor Apung Iru and we can still do that while we are in our houses with our families. We can eat and pray together," he said.

Health measures and other protocols to maintain peace and order will also be implemented to ensure the safety of Apaliteños and the community, Tetangco added.

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