Filipinos re-enact Jesus's crucifixion in Easter ritual
SAN FERNANDO, Philippines (Reuters Life!) - Nearly two dozen Filipinos were nailed to crosses to re-enact the passion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, in what they see as an extreme display of devotion but which the Roman Catholic Church criticizes as a distortion of the Easter message.
The annual ritual draws thousands of spectators to San Fernando, 80 km (50 miles) north of Manila, to see penitents flagellate themselves and a series of crucifixions in area villages, culminating in a recreation of Christ's death.
"I hope the Lord will grant my wish to make me win big in 'jueteng' this year," Alex Laranang, a 55-year-old food vendor who said he can't read or write, told Reuters before two 5-inch nails were driven into his hands on a scorching hot day.
Jueteng is a popular illegal lottery in the Philippines.
Laranang, a father of five, said he had won 3 thousand pesos ($70) twice in the five years he had himself crucified on a cross.
"The first time I was nailed to a cross, I was terrified, but I prayed to Jesus to take the pain. Now, I don't feel anything. It's like getting an injection," he added.
Roli Pantoja, a construction worker, said he felt much better after getting down from a wooden cross. This was his sixth crucifixion.
"I feel very fresh, like a new-born baby. I can't feel any pain," he said.
The Church strongly disapproves of the practice, which took hold in northern Pampanga province about 60 years ago as a form of religious vow for Filipinos seeking forgiveness, to have illnesses cured even get wishes granted. "There's only one crucifixion that saved mankind," said Angel Lagdameo, former head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and archbishop in the central city of Jaro. Continued...