At least 25 Ayta tribesmen in Subic Bay Freeport converted to Christianity on Saturday during a mass baptism held at the Holy Land Subic Sanctuary and Biblical Theme Park.
The natives, who belonged to the Pastolan Ayta community, received the sacrament at the “Jordan River” of the Holy Land theme park here, where the likeness of Jesus Christ being consecrated by John the Baptist could be seen.
The natives were baptized by Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Bataan, on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the “Mahal Ka Ng Dios” Outreach Ministry of the Bethesda Springs of Hope Healing Foundation, Inc.
The event coincided with the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Joint Management Agreement (JMA) between the Pastolan Ayta tribe and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), which covered the development of the Ayta ancestral lands in Subic Bay Freeport.
It also marked the 63rd birthday of Mrs. Maribi Garcia, wife of SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia, and leading light of the Bethesda Springs of Hope ministry.
The day-long event was also highlighted by the distribution of scholarship grants for deserving Aeta students, as well as gifts from Bethesda Ministry sponsors.
“This is the best birthday gift for me,” Mrs. Garcia said, as she presented the Pastolan natives who have come for the sacrament of baptism.
Those baptized included toddlers, as well as teenagers and young adults. Among them was Neneng Pelayo, a Pastolan housewife who said she was miraculously cured of her kidney ailment after Bethesda members prayed over her last year.
The Holy Land Holy Land Subic Sanctuary and Biblical Theme Park is a unique attraction in this free port, which is otherwise known for nature-themed parks featuring exotic animals like tigers and false killer whales.
The biblical park is popular among Christian pilgrims because of its life-sized statues depicting the Way of the Cross, as well as other events in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Holy Land Subic straddles foothills and forest areas that form part of the more than 4,000-hectare ancestral domain awarded to the Ambala Ayta tribe in Subic Bay Freeport. The Ayta land also covers part of housing areas, industrial parks and tourism attractions here. (HEE/MPD-SBMA)
Members of the indigenous Pastolan Ayta tribe line up to receive the sacrament during a mass baptism held on Saturday at the Holy Land Sanctuary and Biblical Theme Park in the Subic Bay Freeport. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)