Philippines Crucifixion, 24 nailed to cross

Once again, Good Friday sees Filipinos nailed to crosses, re-enacting Jesus’ suffering and death.

Yesterday tourists flocked to see at least 24 Filipinos take part in the annual ritual which Church leaders reject as extreme devotion and a distortion of the Easter message.

“The Church asks you to deny yourself through mortification, prayer and sacrifice. So it is more of self-control rather than physical infliction on our body,” Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto told The Philippine Star. “The Church does not ask you to punish yourself corporally.”

However more than 30,000 people, including tourists watched and took pictures. An ambulance stood by and more than 20 tourists fainted or became dizzy in the heat, officials said.

Ruben Enaje, a 50-year-old sign painter, screamed in pain as villagers dressed as Roman centurions hammered four-inch stainless steel nails through his palms and set him aloft on a cross under a brutal sun in San Pedro Cutud in Pampanga.

It was Enaje’s 25th crucifixion after surviving, almost unscathed, a fall from a three-story building in 1985.

“I hope the Lord will grant my wish to make me win big in the lottery this year” Alex Laranang, a 55-year-old food vendor who said he can’t read or write, told Reuters before two 5-inch nails were driven into his hands on a scorching hot day.

Laranang, a father of five, said he had won 3 thousand pesos (NZ$87) twice in the five years he had himself crucified on a cross.

“The first time I was nailed to a cross, I was terrified, but I prayed to Jesus to take the pain. Now, I don’t feel anything. It’s like getting an injection,” he added.

Ahead of the cross nailings, throngs of penitents walked several miles through village streets and beat their bare backs with sharp bamboo sticks and pieces of wood, sometimes splashing spectators with blood. Some participants opened cuts in the penitents’ backs using broken glass to ensure the ritual was sufficiently bloody.

Foreigners have been banned from taking part after an Australian comic was nailed to a cross under a false name a few years ago. Authorities also believe that a Japanese man sought to be crucified as part of a porn film in 1996. “They made a mockery of a local tradition,” the authorities said.



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