In the Philippines, faithful reenact Christ’s suffering on Good Friday

BenarNews staff
Manila and Paombong, Philippines
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A man depicting Jesus Christ is whipped as he carries a cross on the streets of suburban Mandaluyong city, Philippines, to mark Good Friday, April 7, 2023. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


A tattooed man wearing a red hood leads a group of penitents in flagellating themselves on the streets of Mandaluyong city, in Metro Manila, as the Catholic Philippines marked Good Friday, April 7, 2023. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

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Men wearing paper mache masks and dressed as Roman centurions -- with a Filipino cultural twist -- participate in rituals in a remote village in the town of General Luna, Quezon province, Philippines, April 4, 2023. [George Calvelo/BenarNews]

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A Filipina uses her mobile phone to capture the depiction of Christ carrying the cross in Bulacan province, north of Manila, April 6, 2023. [Gerard Carreon/BenarNews]

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A man whose back has a tattoo of Jesus Christ flogs himself on the streets of Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila, April 7, 2023. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

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People in masks and colorful costumes that depict a Philippine interpretation of Roman centurions are seen during Holy Week in the town of General Luna, Quezon province, Philippines, April 4, 2023. [George Calvelo/BenarNews]

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Devotees watch Good Friday reenactments in Paombong town, Bulacan province, Philippines. April 7, 2023. [Basilio Sepe/BenarNews]

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A man portraying Jesus Christ is nailed to a wooden cross on Good Friday in Paombong town, Bulacan province, Philippines. April 7, 2023. [Basilio Sepe/BenarNews]

Updated at 2:43 a.m. on 2023-04-08

The predominantly Catholic Philippines marked the holiday of Good Friday with a remembrance of Jesus Christ, as devotees whipped themselves or were nailed to the cross in a tradition officially frowned upon by the church.

Around 80% of the country’s nearly 114 million population is Catholic and the country was shut down for business most of this week, which is considered holy for Christians.

Good Friday represents Jesus suffering and dying on the cross, and Filipinos perform extreme acts of penance in the belief that hurting themselves can cleanse sins, cure illnesses, or grant wishes. Many of the faithful did not heed warnings by the Catholic Church in the Philippines to refrain from such acts.

“Theology tells us that Christ suffered and died on the cross to cleanse our sins. That is why we don’t need to repeat it,” Rev. Jerome Secillano, a spokesman for the church, said in an interview with a Philippine television network.

“So if people want to have themselves crucified on the cross or want to flagellate themselves to cleanse their sins, that view is not right,” he said.

In Mandaluyong district in Manila, men wore red hoods to cover their faces as they flogged themselves using whips made of bamboo.

In the town of Paombong in Bulacan province just outside the capital, three people had themselves nailed to crosses for a few minutes. Farther north in the farming village of San Pedro Cutud, 12 devotees participated in crucifixions

Ruben Enaje, 62, a laborer who has chosen to be nailed the cross 34 times, said he was doing it this year to pray for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I really want to end this because it is too painful and I am already old,” he said.

“When I am put on the cross, my body can feel the stress. But I just pray and tell myself that I can do this.”

Jojo Riñoza in Manila, and Basilio Sepe and Gerard Carreon in Bulacan, Philippines, contributed to this report. This report has been updated to add more photos and clarify information in a caption.


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