Mera Joy Aniolga

Witness the Controversial Crucifixion Re-enactment in the Philippines

In Current Events, Event, Travelling on April 23, 2011 at 8:32 am

Summer in the Philippines is not only synonymous with beaches and fun, but also with the Lenten season. For approximately 73 million Catholic Filipinos, this is a special time of the year when penance and sacrifices are made prior to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They say Filipino faith can move mountains, and in some cases it can even influence them to nail their hands to a cross or be cut by whips in order to endure and feel the suffering of Jesus. It may sound a bit weird, but Filipinos take the word sacrifice very seriously.

Every Good Friday, thousands of locals and tourists flock to small towns throughout the Philippines, such as Pampanga or Jordan, to witness the re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixio. This is known as “Pagtaltal sa Guimaras” where Christ’s Passion is acted out. This includes the last supper, scourging at the pillar, carrying of the cross, the seven last words up to the crucifixion. The practice of crucifixion itself is controversial and not encouraged by the church—willing participants have their palms nailed into a wooden cross. For over thirty-three years the crucifixion re-enactment has been taking place every Good Friday and ends at 3 p.m. when the person portraying the role of Jesus is nailed on the cross. This because according to Catholics, 3 p.m is the time of Christ’s death.

The people who portray the role of Jesus during the crucifixion re-enactment say they do it for sacrifice, personal penance, good will and blessings. Over the years, different people have portrayed the role of Jesus, including females and even visiting tourists. Whether you’re Catholic or not, the crucifixion re-enactment is a shockingly bold introduction to the Filipino faith.

The crucifixion re-enactment happens every Good Friday, two days prior to Easter. Alternatively, if you are visiting outside of Lent the best time of the year to visit the Philippines is during their summer season. From January to June the sun is at its highest, the beach is at its coolest and the weather is at its finest. Summer season is synonymous with celebration in the Philippines, and there are hundreds of fiestas being celebrated all over the country. January is also the time when the famous Dinagyang Festival is held in Iloilo city.

Make the most out of your Philippines’ Good Friday experience. Check out the Balaan Bukid first before going to Jordan, Guimaras to witness the crucifixion re-enactment. Get there as early as you can—between 5:30–7:00 a.m. is a good bet to get to the wharf and secure your seat on the ferry. Arriving later will mean that you take the risk of staying in line under the sun’s scorching heat. Bear in mind that both local and foreign tourists visit here.

This is a re-post of my article at The Circumference.

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