Penitents to reenact Christ's crucifixion on Good Friday

By Ding Cervantes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 10 2014 04:46 AM | Updated as of Apr 10 2014 12:46 PM

ANGELES CITY, Philippines – Penitents will again reenact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ here on Good Friday.

Participants in the local crucifixions would include the biblical characters in full costume, who would reenact events during the Siete Palabras or the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ.

“Only three penitents will actually be nailed on crosses on our Golgotha in Barangay Lourdes Northwest this year,” barangay chairman Armando Enriquez said.

Enriquez also said he imposed restrictions on the crucifixions to prevent a repeat of controversies in social networking sites that erupted two years ago after a woman posed provocatively for a photo shoot before one of the crosses after the crucifixions.

Since biblical crucifixions referred only to Jesus Christ and two robbers, limiting the crucifixions to three persons would also be practical so as not to consume the time of tourists and pilgrims who usually visit other crucifixion sites and observe other religious practices in Pampanga, he added.

The time for the entire program has yet to be announced, so that it would not conflict with other crucifixions, particularly in San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando, which has gained international fame for its crucifixions.

“We expect over 50,000 pilgrims and tourists to come,” Enriquez said.

Other Holy Week activities

Robie Tantingco, head of the Center for Kapampangan Studies at Holy Angel University in Angeles City, said there are other activities that tourists could witness aside from the crucifixion in San Pedro Cutud.

One of them is the Pasyon Serenata in Barangay San Basilio in Sta. Rita town in the evening of Holy Wednesday. Pasyon is a narrative of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ chanted during the Lenten season.

“It’s a showdown between two brass bands and their respective choirs who try to outperform each other by chanting the pasyon to the tune of classical operas. They play all night long, one page at a time, until they finish the whole book,” Tantingco said.

In Mabalacat City early morning of Good Friday, there is a grand assembly of penitents.

“Hundreds, maybe thousands, of half-naked flagellants and cross-bearers in flowing red robes, brought together by sin and tradition, converge in the church patio for an orgy of suffering, self mutilation and penance. The number of penitents makes you wonder if flagellation, like circumcision, is a rite of passage among boys in Pampanga,” Tantingco said. – With Aie Balagtas See