Catholic devotees attend a Black Nazarene procession on the eve of Good Friday in Manila, Philippines, 06 April 2023. EFE-EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

Philippine village recreates crucifixions after 3-year Covid-19 hiatus

Manila, Apr 7 (EFE).- The Philippine village of San Pedro Cutud, north of Manila, recreated its famous crucifixions for Good Friday, in which penitents carry crosses and are nailed to them, after three years of cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While many Filipino Catholics celebrate Holy Week by visiting churches and watching processions, some villages stage bloody spectacles that include whipping flagellants and crucifixions, despite the Church’s rejection of these traditions.

The most famous crucifixions are those of San Pedro Cutud, a small village located in the province of Pampanga where its most famous crucified, Ruben Enaje, 63, was nailed to the cross for the 34th time.

Catholic devotees hold palm fronds as they wait for the arrival of an early morning procession to a church marking Palm Sunday in Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines, 02 April 2023. EFE-EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA

In the last three years, the local authorities of San Fernando de Pampanga, where San Pedro Cutud is located, have canceled re-enactments on the cross due to Covid-19.

Another of the towns that recreated the crucifixions Friday is Paombong, in the province of Bulacan, where the believer Precy Valencia was raised on the cross with nails in her hands and feet.

The Catholic Church and the health authorities warn of the health risks of crucifixions, but every year this religious paroxysm is repeated at Easter, attracting thousands of devotees and tourists.

In colonial times, Spanish religious and missionaries learned the local languages to spread the gospel and make conversions, although at times the Catholic creed was mixed with local animist beliefs.

Catholic devotees raise palm fronds to receive a blessing to mark Palm Sunday inside a church in Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines, 02 April 2023. EFE-EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA

During these days, parades of images of Christ, the Virgin and other figures from the New Testament are also held in processions, called “karosas” or “andas” in Tagalog.

Another tradition is the “church visit,” which consists of visiting seven churches, which during the three years of the pandemic was carried out virtually through a website.

With more than 90 million faithful, the Philippines is the country with the most Catholics in Asia – more than 80 percent of its population – and the third in the world, only behind Brazil and Mexico. EFE