The Philippines is considered as the only country in Asia with the highest Catholic population. According to the Asia Society Website, 86% of the Philippine population are Roman Catholics.
As part of the annual observance of the Holy Week, Good Friday is marked as the most momentous day as a number of followers show their devotion by recreating what Jesus Christ has gone through during His time.
In Pampanga, a city outside of Manila, thousands of spectators have gathered to witness how these devotees are being nailed to crosses and whipping their backs under the hot sun. This annual ritual attracted guests from the different parts of the country and of the world, as well.
These flagellants slowly marched barefoot on their way to the hill in a rural district of San Fernando, Pampanga. This hill is where the crucifixions take place. A few devotees stopped walking to allow children to hit them with twigs. For this year, five men, who has fake beards drawn on their faces, had volunteered to be tied and hammered to the cross
The pain that they felt were apparent as the participants’ wails were heard by everyone watching. A devotee, Wilfredo Salvador, stated that, “My faith got me through my illness. I will continue doing this for as long as I live.”
A 30-year-old construction worker, Arjay Rivera, stated that he feels no pain with what he was doing because he knows that he is one with God in suffering. Rivera slit his back with razors and broken bottles before whipping himself with bamboo flails to open his wounds.
The Catholic Church, however, strongly discourages this practice as there are other ways to profess one’s faith.
San Fernando Archbishop, Florentino Lavarias, shared that, “Our acts should be geared toward good works. Christian life is not something that is done overnight.”
Meanwhile, this practice did not only gratify Catholic believers, but local businesses thrive on it as well. Thousands of tourists from all over the world visited the place to witness these Good Friday activities.