Filipino devotees reenact crucifixion of Christ

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Filipino Catholic zealots re-enact the last hours of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, whipping their backs and nailing themselves to crosses in an Easter ritual that persists despite Church disapproval. Warning: Containsgraphic images of mock crucifixions. AFP


A Filipino penitent is nailed to the cross during Good Friday rituals on Friday, March 29, 2013 at Cutud, Pampanga province, northern Philippines. Several Filipino devotees had themselves nailed to crosses Friday to remember Jesus Christ’s suffering and death, an annual rite rejected by church leaders in this predominantly Roman Catholic country. AP Photo/Aaron Favila

SAN FERNANDO, Philippines–Catholic zealots in the Philippines re-enacted the last hours of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, whipping their backs and nailing themselves to crosses in a grisly Easter ritual that persists despite Church disapproval.

Foreign and local tourists flocked to the outskirts of the city of San Fernando, a 90-minute drive from Manila, to see the annual spectacle where a Christian “passion play” is taken to its blood-soaked extreme.

At least 18 men had nails driven through their hands and were hung up on crosses under the hot sun in vacant plots around the city.

Elsewhere hooded men lashed their bloody backs with cloth and bamboo whips, doing penance for their sins while spraying onlookers with flecks of blood.

Devotees undergo the hardships in the belief that such extreme sacrifices are a way to atone for their sins, attain miracle cures for illnesses or give thanks to God.

“I am used to it already,” said Alex Laranang, 58, who was nailed up for the 14th time.

Laranang, a short, sunburnt man who sells baked buns to bus passengers, said: “It is just like a needle going through my hand. After two days, I am ready to go back to work again.”

So far, he told Agence France-Presse, his suffering has been rewarded as his wife and children enjoy good health and he continues to make a decent living.

“I am doing this for my family, so that no one will get sick and that my livelihood will continue. I am just a poor man. But I don’t ask God to make me rich,” he said.

It was the 27th crucifixion for sign painter Ruben Enaje, 52, one of the most popular penitents from San Pedro Cutud village. He began his yearly rite after surviving a fall from a building.

Enaje screamed in pain as men dressed as Roman soldiers hammered stainless steel nails into his palms and feet. A wireless microphone carried his voice to loudspeakers for everyone watching to hear.

His cross was raised and he was hanged there for several minutes under the searing afternoon sun before the nails were pulled out and he was taken on a stretcher to a first aid station.

At least two of the men hung on crosses had to be carried away on stretchers after being taken down, but most managed to walk to a medical tent for treatment as Western tourists snapped pictures.

Norwegian Charlotte Johanssen, 26, a Manila resident who was among the crowd of onlookers, said some of her visiting friends had found the sight too much to take.

“I have friends who felt sick to their stomachs and who got nauseated,” said Johanssen, who works for an aid group in the Philippine capital.

“There are those who get amazed. You can’t imagine how anyone can subject themselves to this kind of pain,” she said.

“It’s intriguing and fascinating what makes people do something like this, how you can believe so much that you make yourself suffer to that extent,” said Dita Tittesass, a tourist from Denmark.

BLOODY RITUAL Filipino penitent Ruben Enaje, center, who has portrayed as Jesus Christ for 27 times, is nailed on the cross as he leads others in a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ during Good Friday rituals in Cutud, Pampanga province. AP

Remigio de la Cruz, the chief of San Pedro Cutud village, explained that the practice began in his village in the 1950s.

The mock crucifixions have been going on for decades despite official disapproval from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the CBCP, told the church-run Radio Veritas that the practice is “not the desire of Jesus Christ.”

“We are aware that this has been practiced long before … but we still hope that this will not be done any more,” he said. “We should all concentrate on prayers.”

“The bishops have been saying for a long time they disapprove of this. But people make such vows. They sacrifice themselves for others,” said Father Francis Lucas, executive director of the CBCP media office.

“We have so many crosses to bear in life. We don’t need to bear a real one,” he told AFP.

He also warned against efforts to use the event to boost tourism, saying: “That is really wrong”.

San Fernando City conveniently listed the locations and schedules for the mock crucifixions on its tourism website, complete with a map so visitors could follow the action.

The Philippines, a former Spanish colony, is home to more than 80 million Catholics and the Church wields strong influence, ensuring that divorce and abortion remain illegal.

Some Filipinos were disappointed that Manila archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle missed out this month when Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen at a Vatican papal conclave to succeed Benedict XVI, becoming Pope Francis.

On the southern island of Mindanao a Good Friday religious procession dissolved into panic when communist rebels attacked security forces guarding the event, killing two village militiaman, police said.

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  • staad

    all for show

  • farmerpo

    Media coverage made what used to be a true vow into a commercialized venture. P2000 to P5000 will get you somebody to nail on the cross,reminiscent of ambush for sale during martial law. Media should not encourage such acts. More gruesome and bloody rituals are done in India but to the exclusion of media. Only in the Philippines, where even the bloated corpses of catastrophes are emblazoned on media. I did not see a single dead victim’s picture in the Japan tsunami. They respect their people so much.

    • Ph3n0M47

      I wish the people that make such decisions will read this comment and take heed to it

    • Magsasaka

      eh wala namang ethics ang mga media dito, mas gusto nga nila laging may gulo, laging may sakuna para headline at wala sa kanila ang respeto basta kikita ang corporation ng mga media

      • ARIKUTIK

        There’s nothing wrong in publishing truth. What is despicable are lies in half truth. Let PH media remain free as in the wackiest press in the entire universe of SHOWBIZZ governance.

        The Boy AB capitalizes on it but Filipinos have sense to see the truth.

        Media, “Daang Tuwid” is actually “Daang Tuwad”, “Team Malaysia” of Penoy.

      • frudo

        move on ka nlang hintay ka ng next presidential election at boto mo gusto mong presidente ng Pinas bitter

      • Magsasaka

        hindi presidente si pnoy ganyan na ang media kaya huwag kang hangal

    • buttones

      Very well said- what sort of a nation have we become?

  • pilipino

    This is plainly paganism at its worst!

  • david

    after ng penitensya balik sa makamundong buhay… kung di ba naman nanunuya ka nyan sa Dios.

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    just a showoff.

  • Ilving Tabios Zamora

    Cultural Damage Generated By Roman Catholicism!

  • Mang Teban

    Para humaba lang ang balita ng reporter, dinadagdag na lang ang mga bagay ukol sa Simbahang Katolika pero walang kaugnayan sa mga pagpapako ng mga tao sa Cutud, Pampanga. Ano bang klaseng pag-uulat ito ng Agence France Presse? May masabi lang. The usual “dig” at Catholics – panahon pa ni kupong-kupon hanggang sa intriga sa pagpili ng santo papa…grabe.

  • levis2012

    This practice must be stopped!

  • Ph3n0M47

    common sense – when applied – is a beautiful thing. Come on people…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Santos/100000057358193 Mike Santos

    The title is inaccurate. It should have read as “Philippines marks Good Friday…” instead of Easter.

    • http://www.pulisnapogi.blogspot.com/ Pulis Na Pogi

      ganyan ang quality ng media men and women dito sa pinas. at sa inquirer nagtatrabaho yan ha?

      ano kaya ang quality ng writers ng tiktik, x-files, toro, at kung ano ano pa?

      hahaha. media my a$$$$!

  • Guest

    More than the equally traditional lip service, the CBCP (Roman Catholic church in the Philippines) must stop their members from mocking what Christ had done.

    What these people are doing is evil.

    How come their faith led them to this twisted practice?

    • mamer2

      Your comment just exposes your ignorance on the matter.
      The Roman Catholic Church & the CBCP had BANNED this practice for ages.

      • Islander

        banned ineffectively? useless church

        why couldn’t the RCC bring back the burning at the stakes, hehehehe?

      • frudo

        ignorante din pala yung mga nagpapako sa krus kasi ban na pala to matagal na ng cbcp, di nila alam kawawa nman sila,

      • mamer2

        Alam din nila yung “ban-ning”…,
        They continue to do so for whatever “personal reasons” they may have.

      • frudo

        kung alam nila yung ban-ning ibig sabihin lang na hindi nila sinusunod ang mga leaders nila( bishop and priest) sabagay kanya kanyang paniniwala yan,

  • Ibongpipit

    I wish those three sacrificial devotees further manifest their suffering by truly condemning or refraining participation in vices like small time lotto with the poor in their local Pampanga community.

  • Billy Reyes

    Why not being extreme in some other things that would beneficial to our country. This is absolutely bullshit.

  • Magsasaka

    isang patunay na maraming bulag na panatiko at mangmang ay ginawang sagrado ang simbolo ng kamatayan at pagpapahirap noong panahon ni kristo ay ang krus, sa umpisa at pagtatapos ng dasal at magaantanda ng krus, isang pagtangap sa nakagisnan ng mga mangmang, isang palatandaan ng mga pagiisip na napakadadaling iligaw at paglaruan ng mga damasong nagkukunwaring kristo

  • Nitsog

    PDI is a yellow media, if you are a critic then your post will be lost, better read The Tribune or Standard. these are not bias.
    No to LP or UNA, vote for the independent candidates.

    • Javaman

      then why your here!

  • almostcad

    I think it’s up to the people how they observe Lent. You can never please anybody anyway.

  • rlo

    Good show. That really trivializes the real sacrifice of others….cameras shouldn’t be allowed. Anyway…there are a few people I’d like to see up in the cross.

  • http://twitter.com/Olibo2 Olibo

    Pity for these people blind fanaticism.

    • mamer2

      Not that I approve of it.., BUT..
      For many & most…, the whole spectacle is “show-time”.
      Foreign tourists flock here, during the Lenten Season, to witness this “tradition”.
      Just like the :”Bull-Fights” in Spain, the “Mardi-gras” in New Orleans…, etc.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000923389289 David Bobir

        how many is a flock? and is it still worth the negative publicity?

  • TinimbangNgunitKulang

    The government should start arresting and putting people in jail. Those doing the flogging and crucifying for assault and battery while those being flogged and crucified for being a danger to themselves and causing public scandal with lewd display.

  • MnlaBoy

    Hi – It’s not Easter. It’s Good Friday/Viernes Santo.

  • mamer2

    “Zealots”, indeed.
    But NOT your usual, average, ordinary, normal “Roman Catholic”-Filipino.

  • Noel

    Jesus was crucified once and need not be crucified over and over again. He died for our sins. If we really want to reenact His death, then we may as well also reenact His resurrection. That means those paid actors being crucified should also die and be raised again in three days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000164612447 Sean Erik Yazon

    Its very timely with the upcoming election. I swear if a politician can subject himself to this then he has balls! ill vote for him! LOL!!!!!!

  • ikesbox

    Gruesome and has no religious or social redeeming values. It’s time to let this go. Nobody can give permission to anybody to inflict physician injuries on himself. it’s like allowing somebody to hit stab you for a fee. There are better ways of making money that’s that brutal, illegal, and sadistic. Let’s stop burying our head in the sand and pretend that this is ok. It is not ok.

  • ARIKUTIK

    Freedom of ideas. As long they don’t hurt others, let the penitent be as they wish. Those who mock are ingrates with out ideas inside a brain but just plain critics for nothing.

    • frudo

      di wag sila pakita sa tao para walang critics

  • rodben

    Yong mga Pinoy poilitico na syang pinakamakasalanan nilalang sa Pinas dapat ang gumawa nito para kahit kunti mabawasan kanilang kasalanan sa masa..

  • BIGButo

    This is really stupid the Philippine government should not allow this. This is also a sin because God made man and the human body is a temple of God.

    God died to save us from our sins not to mutilate or destroy our bodies. These people need to go talk to a Pastor or Priest because they still have a lot to learn about God, good Friday, and Easter.

  • Islander

    If bishops disapproved of this, why is it still there every Holy Week? Shouldn’t the politicking bishops influence the Cutud mayor, Pampanga governor and congressmen, heck even the President and the Supreme Court to stop the practice? Shouldn’t it call an oratio imperata against it? a rally? a boycott? a letter to all churches? Instead of the CBCP making forays into political matters, it should address first this hideous religious superstition right in their own backyard.

    • mamer2

      If the CBCP prevents this practice, tho’ forbidden by them…, the bishops will be again blamed/accused/ etc…, of curtailing religious freedom & practices.

      • Islander

        Aren’t they supposed to be the guide of religious practices. They should be more aggressive against these practices as these are part of their domain rather than straying into politics and social policies of the State.

      • frudo

        hindi siguro kaya lang nman sila blamed/accused/etc kasi dahil sa pakikialam nila sa gobyerno at pagsasaw sa pulitika at mga pulitiko, pero pag sarili nilang tao ang pakikialaman nila lalo na yung mga panatiko sa kanila susunod lang yun sa kanila, kaso ang maliwanag tino tolerate nila.

    • mamer2

      To those who criticizes the CBCP for not stopping this “bloody practice”…,
      WHY DON’T YOU DO the STOPPING, BANNING, PREVENTING…, Yourselves.!

      • frudo

        yan mga ganyan dapat nila pakialaman hindi ang gobyerno

  • UrHONOR

    TIYAK na matutuwa ang sambayanan kung yong tatlong na sa krus ay yong TATLONG ANO ng UNA….. na isang BERDUGO na totoong pinako at yong dalawang TULISAN sa magkabilaang tabi ng berdugo.

  • askal2u

    Bunch of boner who have no brains that want to become god. Jesus already said on the cross, “It is finished.” His death already accomplish the forgiveness of our sins and His rising gave us the hope to salvation. So, all these stupid and blashpemous flagging of self and being nailed to the cross is a very stupid action of these people. Watch them after that ceremony, they will be back to their own old self of sinning again and the it all over again next year. Also, if they really want to follow Christ, why don’t the people doing the crucifixion use a spear to pierce their side and see if they die that they will rise again on the third day. In Tagalog, mga hunghang ang mga mangmang na to.

  • askal2u

    Alex Lanarang, let me do the crucifixion on you and see if you will survive if the 15 time. Christ never did it more than once, why you have to do it more than Him, are you trying to be more than God?

  • frudo

    The mock crucifixions have been going on for decades despite official disapproval from the Philippines’ Catholic bishops. so ano silbi bakit kailangan saktan ang sarili kung mismong bishop at pari hindi sangayon dito?

  • gaudiponce

    this whole nailing on the cross is all for show. Just like the rituals in the church…it is all for show. Jesus said ” I do not need your rituals, I need your mercies.” Of course the Catholic church says LITURGY is prayer but why not pray to God without all the trappings, how many candles to be lit, how many altar cloth on the altars…. That is why they cannot stop these people from doing this NAILING business every Good Friday.. sabihin nila e kayo din meron mga rituales. The government must step in and arrest these people. WE are the laughing stock of other nations. This is not faith, this is crazy.

  • batangsulpok

    Yan ang nakakatawa, sabi ng CBCP ay bawal sa catholic beliefs pero bakit taon-taon ay ganito? Kung pinakikialaman ng CBCP ang gobyerno, bakit di nila mapatigil ito o nakikinabang din sila dahil malaking pera ang kinikita?

  • InChristAlone_75

    It’s so sad that every Holy week the RCC’s false doctrines, paganistic rites and rituals are all the more emphasized. I feel for these people including the priests all being deceived by the evil one.

  • Maldi2

    Tota malapit lang si Panot sa Pampanga, di ba siya na lang ipako natin sa Krus?

  • virgoyap

    ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES!!!

  • wawa2172

    The media should not cover such a practice that makes some people taking advantage of it. I do not know if it is for sacrifice or ignorance of the people on the religious value of what they are doing by imitating the pain that Jesus suffered to save the sin of the world. I am a catholic and I agree with the church that such practice of being nailed on the cross be stop.

  • Guest

    bebelib ako sa mga nagpapako na yan, if papalatigo din sila tulad nung sa Passion of the Christ..Tapos ang pako hindi binabad sa alchohol.

  • Javaman

    People are doing it for reason of sick leadership of the Archdiocese of Pampanga and poor priest that teaches mix paganism and catholicism.

  • tiriring

    This is pure mockery of what Jesus did on the cross to save mankind.
    It is not the about the pain from crucifixion that saves a sinner soul but the death of Jesus that redeemed the believer from hell fire. All we have to do is to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus as our LORD and Savior.

    People doing this are really sick. Thinking that God will reward them by doing so and going through such pain is just psychological and emotional but nothing Spiritual about it. Or maybe that’s for show only….

  • Vertumnus

    What so sacred about blood being spilled? I dare any of this zealots to find anywhere in the Bible advocating people being nailed to the cross. This absolutely has nothing to do with veneration of Christ but a selfish commercial ventures that have the media reporting this whole disgusting display for the rest of the world to see. Ex-communicate the whole lot!
    They are making a mockery of the passions of Christ! Disgusting display of exhibitionism!

  • Ali Boy

    Please don’t mock Jesus Crucifixion. This is not the way to salvation. Jesus said to carry our cross. Jesus did not say immiatate Me and be nailed to the Cross, You know why? Jesus poured His Blood once and for all. His precious Blood dripped unto the ” Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant”

  • boldyak

    making one’s sacrifice as a tourist attraction is all for the money….stop this nonsense…do your sacrifice quietly…by making it public God has rewarded you already not with grace but your popularity…making hard work and having a good life is already a sacrifice that God will surely reward you…Jesus Christ told us to follow him, carry a cross, but that teaching is not literal…people should understand the real meaning of “following Jesus Christ”…I am a catholic but I don’t like what these people are doing…

  • ConstructiveMediaCritics

    THE COMMEMORATION OF JESUS CHRIST ON HIS CRUCIFIXION…..

    THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS MUST COMMEMORATE JESUS CHRIST IN PRAYING WITH WHOLE HEART AND THE COMMEMORATIONS THRU SINAKULO OR ANY LIKE RE-ENACTMENT IN A SHOW OR EVEN IN MOVIES IS MUST NOT BE INJURING OR

    HARMFUL OR HURTING THEMSELVES…

    THE “SINAKULO” OR THE SHOW IN MOVIES AND IN CULTURAL CENTER OR ANY CAN PEOPLE DO SHOW IS A GOOD IN FAITH TO GOD THRU JESUS COMMEMORATING HIM AND SHOWING PEOPLE THE SUFFERING OF JESUS CHRIST FOR US WHICH IT IS LIKE THEY READ YOU THE BIBLE IN THE GOSPEL BUT IN A SHOW… THE “SINAKULO” IS THE BIBLE SAYS AND SAYING IT AND TEACHING US TO PEOPLE LIKE THAT IN CULTURAL SHOW IS HELPING IN OUR FAITH TO GOD…..

    THE PROBLEMS IS SOME OF OUR FELLOW FILIPINO MAKE IT A THRU PENITENCE HURTING THEMSELVES NAIL IN THE CROSS AND IT IS PROHIBIT BY GOD…TALK TO GOD IN PRAYER AND CONFESS YOUR SIN AND FORGIVE YOU THRU JESUS CHRIST…..

    GOD PREVENT US TO HURT OURSELVES IN FAITH TO HIM AND GOD PREVENT US TO HURT OURSELVES RIDDING OF OUR SINS….

    GOD AND JESUS CHRIST AND MOTHER MARY LIGHTS AND MIRACLES, LIGHTS AND BLESS US ALL…

  • ConstructiveMediaCritics

    WE DO MANY THEATRICAL SHOW FROM BIBLE EVEN IN COMIC BOOKS WE USE TO SPREAD THE GODS WORKS AND BIBLE SAYINGS IN SIMPLE TEACHING AND EXPLAINING……..

    THE GOOD SAMARITAN FROM BIBLE IT IS ALWAYS DO IN A SIMPLE THEATRICAL SHOW AND MANY MORE IN THE BIBLE….IN SCHOOLS IT IS A SHOW TEACHING PEOPLE DO GOOD…….

    THOSE KIND OF THEATRICAL SHOW AND ANY MEDIA FORM HELPS IN SPREADING THE WORDS OF GOD…

  • buttones

    This sort of exhibitionism really has to be ended, a law passed. These scenes beamed all over the world are an embarrassment to our nation, and I would have thought to the Catholic Church as well.

    Not only that, these guys are cheats, they stand on a little ledge on their cross, they DON’T wear a crown of thorns, they DON’T have a spear thrust into their side, they DON’T die, and they DON’T rise from the grave either… now if they could do all that I’d be quite impressed, but they can’t so I’m not – It’s pathetic theatre, get some realism into the show…….. I’m bored…..

  • BESAT

    Ang pagpapapako sa krus para sa ating kasalanan ay minsanan na na nangyari ng ating Hesu-Kristo. Siya lang ang nagiisang nakagawa nun para bigyan tayo ng kapatawaran sa ating mga kasalanan. Lapit ka sa Dios, magsisi at tanggapin na ikaw ay makasalanan, at hingin mo ang kapatawaran kay Hesu-Kristo at tanggapin mo siya sa iyong puso bilang Dios, Panginoon at tagapagligtas. Tulungan ka ng Panginoon kaibigan.

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