A total of 28 penitents – 22 in Pampanga and six in Bulacan – were nailed to crosses on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in the annual macabre re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a practice frowned upon by the Roman Catholic Church.
In Barangay San Pedro Cutud in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, 10 penitents were nailed to wooden crosses on a man-made “Golgotha.”
Seven other penitents were nailed to crosses in Barangay San Juan and another five in Barangay Santa Lucia.
In Barangay Kapitangan, Paombong, Bulacan, six other penitents, including a woman, were also crucified.
About 30,000 local and foreign tourists witnessed the crucifixion rites in Barangays San Pedro, Cutud, Sta. Lucia, and San Juan, said Ching Pangilinan, senior city tourism officer.
Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto had earlier announced to the public not to patronize the re-enactment of Christ here.
Aniceto explained that the real expression of Christian faith during Lent is through repentance and self-renewal, not flagellation or crucifixion. He added that flagellation and crucifixions are superstitious expressions of beliefs, and are usually “done out of need”, which make them wrong.”
This year, however, foreigners were banned from taking part, except as spectators, said Pangilinan.
She said the ban was imposed after some foreigners took part in previous years just to make a film or make fun of the rites.
Based on the records shows in 2009, an allegedly intoxicated foreigner reportedly “mocked” the solemn rites here.
“We don't want them to just make a mockery out of the tradition of the people here,” said Pangilinan.
Among the penitents was Ruben Enaje, a 50-year-old carpenter and painter, who was nailed to a cross for the 25th time as his way of thanking God for surviving a fall from a building in 1985.
In Paombong, thousands of people witnessed bloody faith healers as they were dragged, punched and whipped one by one by colorfully clad residents acting as Roman centurions.
As early as 6 a.m., a huge crowd of local and foreign tourist swelled on farm roads leading to the man-made Golgotha beside the Catholic chapel here where the six faith healers were crucified.
Blood oozed from the blacks of flagellants whipping their bodies with bamboo sticks as they walk along the roads in different towns and cities in this province.
At around 10 a.m., the crucifixion began with Lhen-Lhen Pedroza, a female faith healer from Barangay Lagundi in Plaridel.
Lhen-Lhen stayed nailed to the wooden cross for five minutes as the crowd sang the “Lord's Prayer”. This was the 2nd time that Lhen-Lhen was nailed to the wooden cross.
Next to be crucified at about 10:45 a.m. was Joey Sacdalan of Bulacan. His “disciples” refused to say anything about him.
At 11:15 a.m., it was the turn of a certain “Michael” of Barangay Malumot, Paombong, to be nailed to the cross.
Barangay officials here said next to be crucified at noon and 12:45 in the afternoon were two faith healers from BulacanPampanga.
On Thursday noon, a 20-year-old boy was nailed to a wooden cross here. According to barangay officials, his “disciples” declined to say something about him.
"Nadala na po kasi sila noong nakaraang taon na mayroong nagpapako na taga-Australia na hindi naman pala deboto kundi ginamit lang ang lugar sa kanilang pelikula,” the barangay officials said.