Filipinos mark Good Friday with crucifixions
By John Mair
CUTUD, Philippines (Reuters) - More than a dozen Filipinos were nailed to crosses and others whipped their backs until they were bloody in a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday.
The Catholic Church disapproves of the annual ritual of devotion but says it cannot stop people in Asia's largest Roman Catholic country from being voluntarily nailed to a cross or flagellating themselves, only educate them that it isn't necessary.
In the 55th year of the festival, Christ was played by local Ruben Inaje, who said he was being nailed to a cross for the 24th time, as thousands of locals and foreign tourists watched.
"When they put the nails in my palm, that's very painful," said the 49-year-old before his crucifixion. Nails are also driven through his feet.
"Of course I am nervous. But I pray deep in my heart, so the nerves must break down at that time," said Inaje, who said he went to Mass about once a month.
"I feel much better when I get off the cross."
There was a carnival-like atmosphere in Cutud, a small village about 80 kms (50 miles) north of Manila, where 10 other penitents were also nailed to crosses.
A manmade hill with three crucifixes was surrounded by a media area filled with ladders and scaffolding for cameras, a VIP tent with seating, and an open field where vendors sold drinks, snacks, hats and clothing. Continued...