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In the Philippines, crucifixions and self-flagellation for Good Friday

Photo: Ted Aljibe Agence France-Presse An actor playing the role of Jesus Christ carries a wooden cross in Manila on Thursday.

Cécil Morella – Agence France-Presse in San Fernando

March 29, 2024

  • Asia

Crucified on a wooden cross or whipped until they bled, Catholics reenacted the last moments of Jesus Christ to celebrate Good Friday in the Philippines.

Dozens of flagellants wandered barefoot through the dusty streets around San Fernando, north of the capital Manila, under the eyes of thousands of spectators, to atone for their sins or bring about a divine miracle.

“It’s for my son, he’s epileptic,” says Joel Yutoc, his 13-year-old’s name tattooed on his chest.

Aged 31, he claims that his son has not had a seizure in the eight years he has participated in these Good Friday penitential scenes, which begin with whippings.

In the village of San Juan, a small, thin, bearded man embodying Jesus is dragged by neighbors disguised as Roman centurions towards wooden crosses.

In front of the crowd equipped with cell phones, he is crucified and raised on the cross for a few minutes before being taken down and released.

“I will continue to do this as long as I am alive, as long as my body allows it. This is my wish,” says Wilfredo Salvador, a 67-year-old retired fisherman. He says he began playing the role of Christ 16 years ago, after suffering from psychological problems.

“It’s nothing. Sometimes it heals the next day and I can wash the dishes and take a bath again,” he assures, speaking of his injuries.

Ten people were crucified or attached to crosses at three sites, San Fernando City Councilman Reginaldo David told reporters.

In the main event, Ruben Enaje, 63, had his hands and feet nailed for the 35th time. He remained crucified for more than ten minutes while storm clouds gathered. Rain began to fall as the man was carried on a stretcher to the doctors' tent, where his wounds were bandaged.

These extreme displays of devotion are frowned upon by the Philippine Catholic Church.

The Ministry of Health urged the public to “avoid acts and rites that result in physical harm.”

“We join in the pastoral guidance of our religious leaders, who guide everyone toward safe and healthy religious practices,” he said in a statement.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116