In San Pedro Cutud in Pampanga province near Manila, Romelito Vergara, a 37-year-old jobless man, received his 10th crucifixion Friday out of a total number of 24 he has set because he believes he can thank God for helping him recover from polio which temporarily crippled him and from alcoholism. It was also a sacrifice for a prayer for the Philippines to be cleansed of drug traffickers, he said.
While the ritual attracts foreign and local tourists every year South East Asia’s largest predominantly Roman Catholic nation and it is said that the buzz from Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” could have possibly doubled the number of visitors to the event this year.
The Roman Catholic Church makes it clear that the church frowns down upon the ritual.
It is also believed by the poor people, who feel alienated from the official Church, that the act will bring them forgiveness of their sins or blessings from their families.
Good Friday is the day where Jesus was crucified on the cross he has to carry after he suffered beatings and torture by Roman soldiers.
Filipino Catholics attempt to go through similar sufferings of Jesus during the ritual including whipping themselves with bamboo strips and beating themselves with glass shards. The participants carry their own cross and are nailed by 10-inch nails to the cross.
Christian missionary Everett McKinney, from Seattle, Washington, watched religious fanatics beat themselves to a pulp before they proceeded to be nailed to the cross. He said the bloodletting was unnecessary because Jesus already sacrificed to atone for man's sins.
"All these flagellants, blood flowing and the beatings, we believe Jesus did all these 2,000 years ago and we don't see any necessity of imitating or doing it again," he said.