Philippines revives bloody Easter tradition

Philippines revives bloody Easter tradition


Hundreds of Filipinos celebrated the Passion of Christ on Friday by scourging themselves until they bled, some even going so far as to have themselves nailed to a cross, a tradition that had been suspended for three years due to the pandemic of COVID-19.

The Friday before Easter Sunday, known as Good Friday, is the day of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ according to the Catholic religion, which is the majority in the Philippines.

In a handful of villages in the San Fernando metropolitan area, north of Manila, it is customary for the day to be marked by bloody acts of contrition.

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Disavowed by the Catholic Church, the practice nevertheless attracted some 15,000 curious people this year, after a three-year hiatus.

In the towns of San Juan and San Pedro, hundreds of bare-chested men roamed the streets whipping themselves and splattering passers-by with their blood, an AFP team found.

“Just pray, then you don't feel the pain,” assured one of these penitents, Daren Pascual, 31, saying that he follows this ritual for the good of his family.


For a handful of volunteers, the ceremony went as far as a cross, performed by practitioners disguised as Roman soldiers.

“Neither worries nor fears”

Among those crucified in San Juan, Wilfredo Salvador, 66, remained nailed to the cross for several minutes by his hands and feet. Before being allowed to return home after a brief medical examination.

Almost a routine for this former fisherman, who explains that he began to be crucified a fortnight ago years following a nervous breakdown.

“I do it by choice. He (God) gives me the necessary physical strength,” he assures us, considering that this practice has given him “a second life”.

In the neighboring town of San Pedro, Ruben Enaje, 62, counts for his part more than thirty crucifixions. “I feel good, I have no more worries or fears,” he confided, with his hands and feet bandaged, after being unnailed.

“It's unique in the world,” notes Milan Dostal, a 43-year-old Czech tourist who came to watch the show, saying his “respect” for this practice.

Established for decades, the tradition continues despite critics.

Health authorities regularly warn against the risk of infection, particularly tetanus. The Catholic Church, for its part, considers this ritual inappropriate.

Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, thus underlined that the crucifixion of Christ “was more than enough to wash away humanity of sin”, and did not need to be imitated.

“If you want your sins to be forgiven, go to confession!” he hammered.< /p>