SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga: Twenty-two penitents were crucified under the scorching heat of the sun during a bloody annual tradition on Good Friday in three barangays here.
The crucifixions were held in the barangays of San Juan, Sta Lucia and San Pedro Cutud.
According to the to the City Tourism Office, about three penitents were nailed to the cross at 9am, while in Sta Lucia there were also three crucified at past 10 a.m..
In Barangay Cutud,the most known crucifixion site, 16 penitents were nailed to the cross at around 2 p.m., the City Tourism Office said.
The event is a re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion that is practiced ach year in the city of San Fernando that originated in 1955 with the staging of “Via Crucis (Way of the Cross).
Via Crucis is the only Kapampangan piece on the passion of Christ by an amateur, Ricardo Navarro of the City Tourism Office said.
It was performed during the Holy Week 57 years ago by volunteer artists from barrio San Pedro Cutud. But it was only in 1962 that an actual crucifixion was witnessed during the play and Christ role was portrayed by Artemio Anoza, a resident of Apalit town.
Anoza was a quack doctor who dreamt that he would become a religious leader and full pledge healer. To realize these, he volunteered to be crucified as a sacrifice.
For this year’s event, 50-year old Ruben Enaje will again be the main character as Christ to be crucified on a man-made hill in barangay San Pedro Cutud. This is Enaje’s 25th year to be crucified on the same site.
Enaje, the most known among the penitents to be nailed to the cross, said that this his way as a religious vow of thanking God for surviving a fall from a scaffolding during work.
He added that he would do this for two more years before retiring.
Another penitent is Hernando Mangun from Barangay Sta. Lucia who has been already crucified for 17th time, including this year.
Manun, a barker for passenger jeepneys, said he would not stop his vow until somebody lends assistance for the medical needs of his son.
During the crucifixion last Good Friday, some of the penitents nailed to the cross fainted due to the heat and were carried by stretchers to waiting ambulance and brought hospitals.
More than 200 policemen were also deployed to provide security to local and foreign tourists who witnessed the crucifixion.
The crowd was estimated to reach 20,000 to 30,000 by the City tourism Office in Cutud alone.
The Catholic Church has voiced its disapproval for this common practice during the Lenten season.