Seven devotees were nailed to crosses on Good Friday in a northern Philippine village where the rites drew thousands of tourists and spectators.
The Lenten ritual is opposed by religious leaders in the Philippines — Southeast Asia’s largest predominantly Roman Catholic nation. But it has persisted to become one of the country’s most-awaited summer attractions in San Fernando City’s San Pedro Cutud village.
The devotees’ palms and feet were attached to wooden crosses with 4-inch nails soaked in alcohol to prevent infection after a nearly mile-long walk to the mound, each carrying a wooden cross on their backs.
Among the yearly penitents in San Pedro Cutud was Ruben Enaje, a 46-year-old commercial sign maker who was nailed to the cross for the 21st time on Friday.
‘They take this religion to the extreme’
Earlier in the day in the same village, dozens of half-naked men hit their bloodied backs with bamboo sticks dangling from a rope in a flagellation rite meant to atone for sins.
More than 100 foreign tourists flocked to this year’s Good Friday rites, with many of them seated on a stage at the side of the mound.
“They take this religion to the extreme,” observed Gomas de Miguel, a tourist from Spain. “In Spain, we say we are Catholics but we don’t do this anymore I think.”
“It’s not my belief, but I know that they are sincere in what they are doing so I respect it,” said American tourist Dennis Smith.