Crucifixion tourism a Good Friday drawcard in Philippines

Gruesome re-enactments of Jesus’ crucifixion are an increasing Good Friday tourism drawcard in the Philippines.

“There are few places on earth where religious fervor is matched in such graphic shows of penitence and resolve to do better”, Asian Pearl Vision, a small luxury travel designer in the Philippines writes on its website.

In an article “Crucifixion in the Philippines: Tourists Welcome”, the travel agency gives a link to various Good Friday events.

A Dutch woman, a travel show host from Holland, lamented to Reuters she did not get the full experience.

“We tried to carry a huge cross, we couldn’t because everybody was filming us, and we tried to suffer like these people suffer, but it’s very hard. We were the centre of attention instead of them.”

Despite repeated requests from the Catholic bishops, for some Philippines Catholics’ devotion calls them to this extreme expression of their faith.

“This is a vow I had made to God so that He will spare my family from sickness,” the penitent, a faith healer, Arturo Bating, told ABC News after his ordeal.

Another, Alex Laranang, 57, also told ABC News had had himself crucified every year for the past 12 years.

“I had made a vow to do this every year until I die,” Mr Laranang, who sells snacks aboard buses for a living, said.

“I do not expect anything in return. I do this for my God.”

Like Mr Bating, he said the physical pain was a minor inconvenience.

“I hardly feel any pain. The nerves have been deadened,” he said.

“After this, I go home, eat and go to sleep. After two days I go back to work.”

In some cases the devotees – who do not take painkillers – also had their feet nailed to the cross and one person had to be rushed off in a waiting ambulance after his feet suffered from heavy bleeding.

Crucifixions are the grisliest, but by no means the only extreme acts of penitence on show in the Philippines.

Dozens of barefoot male devotees wearing black hoods whipped their own bare backs bloody with strips of bamboo tied to a string as they walk the neighbourhoods on Thursday and Friday.

They were followed by groups of children who covered their faces as blood from the whips sprayed on to their clothes.

The ceremonies are supervised by local governments, which put medical treatment on standby, said Reynaldo Sulit, a district official in Paombong.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has urged penitents against crucifying themselves, reports

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu,  said the Church would rather have people renewing their faith than inflicting pain on themselves.

“While we are trying to discourage these practices we cannot also judge their intention, especially those who have made it as their vow,” the prelate said.

“We do not judge and condemn [the practice] but we discourage it,” he added.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,