May 24, 2019
Latest News

A city in the Philippines reenacts Passion of Christ with real sweat, blood

By Sara Gómez Armas.

San Fernando, The Philippines, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- A group of Filipinos on Friday held their annual reenactment of the biblical torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a show of penitence splattered with sweat and blood in which they seek to atone for their sins in front of thousands of spectators.

This year, the traditional event attracted some 20,000 people – a blend of the devout, the merely curious and tourists – to the northern city of San Fernando, located some 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) northwest of Manila.

"It's really painful, but once you're down there and see the expectant looks on people's faces, all the pain just vanishes," said Ruben Enaje, known as the "Jesus of Pampanga" for his recurring role playing the Christian messiah in the Passion play that takes place every year in San Fernando's working-class neighborhood of San Pedro Cutud.

Enaje, 59, has embodied the 1st-century Galilean preacher for the past 33 years.

He told EFE that he was starting to feel tired and old and had asked the event's organizers to begin the search for a replacement.

"When I'm on the cross I pray, I ask for health for me and for my entire family," Enaje explained. "Although today, I also prayed for a substitute to appear soon."

Following his eight-minute martyrdom on the large wooden cross, he received medical attention before donning a T-shirt sporting the face of his other idol: the Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

The Philippines is the most Catholic country in all of Asia, with more than 85 percent of the 106-million population adhering – at least nominally – to the authority of the Vatican, a sequel of more than three centuries of Spanish colonization.

Passion plays are ubiquitous and often bloody, as participants are subjected to painful flagellation and a select few are physically nailed to crosses.

Three others – including a woman – joined Enaje in being crucified under the searing midday sun that glared over San Pedro Cutud. These passionate crucifixions are also common occurrences in other areas of San Fernando, such as the districts of Santa Lucia and San Juan.

"After the entire calvary up to the cross, God willing, the pain will have abated and I'll feel purified," Enaje – who got sucked into this tradition back in 1985 after falling from the third floor of a building and surviving unharmed – had told EFE before the start.

He attributed the miraculous event to divine intervention and decided to adopt a personal appearance as similar as possible to the common iconography associated with Jesus of Nazareth and to be crucified every Good Friday, a tradition his grandfather had pioneered in San Fernando.

"I grew up with this and it fills me with pride to see how there are many young people, even children, who participate in the Maleldo (the local term for 'Easter') events," Enaje said.

Thanks to the crucifixions, the underdeveloped and nearly-forgotten neighborhood of San Pedro Cutud – which usually boasts some 12,000 residents – every year pulls in flocks of journalists and tens of thousands of visitors eager to witness the bloody spectacle.

"We arrived yesterday in Manila and we read about this Easter ritual in the newspaper," said Lydia Calo, a 34-year-old German tourist visiting the Philippines with her boyfriend. "So we decided to come to see first hand what these people are capable of doing for their beliefs."

After spending some days diving around some of the Philippines' idyllic islands, Eduardo, a Spanish photography aficionado, decided to spend his last 24 hours in the country documenting what he described as an "extreme tradition" and see something "new and extraordinary."

Crucifixions are the focus of all media attention during Easter season in the Philippines, where some devotees seek redemption by experiencing the torment Jesus is said to have undergone atop Mt Golgotha in their own flesh.

According to city officials in San Fernando, some 8,000 penitents inflicted harsh punishments upon themselves during the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday processions as a way to expiate their sins, keep a promise or ask for a miracle.

These penances consist of long, barefoot marches during which they either flagellate their own backs with bamboo whips or carry heavy wooden crosses on their shoulders.

Although they may seem ancient to the casual observer, these extreme rituals are a rather recent phenomenon: they started to crop up in the 1950s and are therefore somewhat frowned upon by Church authorities.


News history
Kenya's High Court upholds law criminalizing same-sex relations

Nairobi, May 24 (efe-epa).- Kenya's High Court on Friday declined to decriminalize same-sex relations, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years,...

Global climate change school strikes hit record number

Stockholm, May 24 (efe-epa).- Thousands of schoolchildren around the world walked out of their classrooms on Friday in what organizers say were the biggest...

Senior cleric among three killed in Kabul mosque explosion

Kabul, May 24 (efe-epa).- A bomb blast inside a mosque in the Afghan capital on Friday killed three people, including a prominent religious scholar who was...

Ethnic minorities represented for 1st time in Thai parliament with Hmong MP

By Carlos Sardiña Galache

Filipino natives forced out of their ancestral lands by Chinese capital

By Sara Gómez Armas

Taiwan holds Asia's first same-sex marriages

Taipei, May 24 (efe-epa).- Around 20 same-sex couples on Friday registered their marriage officially at the Household Registration Office in Taipei, the...

US hospital ship to assist 11 countries in response to Venezuelan crisis

Miami, USA, May 23 (efe-epa).- A United States Navy hospital ship will provide medical assistance to 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries in response...

Voice of female Mesaharati calls out in Cairo each dawn of Ramadan

By Carles Grau Sivera

Botswana lifts elephant hunting ban

Johannesburg, May 23 (efe-epa).- Botswana, the country with the largest population of elephants in the world, has lifted a ban on hunting these animals...

Thousands of Jews celebrate Lag BaOmer festival with music, bonfires

Mount Meron, Israel, May 22 (efe-epa).- With songs, dances and bonfires nearly half a million Jews on Wednesday marked the celebration of Lag BaOmer on...

Massive seaweed influx in Cancun's hotel zone

Cancun, Mexico, May 22 (efe-epa).- The hotel zone along the beaches in the Mexican resort city of Cancun on Wednesday experienced a massive influx of...

Geneva, May 22 (efe-epa).- Venezuela's health minister said here Wednesday that economic sanctions imposed by Washington are to blame for shortages of...

Remains of Jewish Holocaust victims reburied in Belarus

Brest (Belarus), May 22 (efe-epa).- Human remains believed to have belonged to 1,214 Jewish victims of the Holocaust were reburied in a cemetery in...

WHO to reduce snakebite mortality rate, health crisis, by half with new plan

By Clea House

Afghan amputee boy dreams a better future by becoming a doctor

Baber Khan Sahel

Lack of diverse global diet takes toll on biodiversity

By Belén Delgado

Internal review reveals sexual assault cases in New Zealand parliament

Sydney, Australia, May 22 (efe-epa).- The New Zealand parliament on Wednesday admitted that at least three cases of serious sexual assault had taken place...

Hundreds protest against anti-abortion laws at US Supreme Court

Washington, May 21 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday in front of the US Supreme Court to protest against the laws passed this year banning...

Plastic waste being made into ecologically friendly houses in western Mexico

By Mariana Gonzalez

Mexican scientist works to find mysterious fish using DNA

By Zoilo Carrillo

Brazil's Candomble religion battles rising intolerance

By Maria Angalica Troncoso

Dr. AI comes to aid of China’s ailing healthcare

By Paula Escalada Medrano

Abortion remains a stigma for South Korean women despite decriminalization

By Andres Sanchez Braun

Australian voters turned their backs on the threat of climate change

By Rocío Otoya

I agree Welcome to We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.