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Crucifixion in Pampanga: Holy Week’s Climax Before Easter Sunday

By on Apr 22, 2011 in Asia, Events, Holidays, Opinion Comments

For most people in Pampanga, Philippines, The Crucifixion on Good Friday is the climax of the observation of Holy Week. Good Friday is the day that Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross and this crucial event is observed by Catholics by doing penance for their “sins.”

The Crucifixion
Image Credit: Joman Laxamana

This Friday April 22,  in Pampanga, more than a dozen penitents, had their faces covered with black clothes, and had marched under the searing heat of the noonday sun to “Calvary.”  Calvary was a small hill found in the outskirts of the city at Barrangay Pampang,  where the re-enactment is done, complete with costumes and role playing.

The Penitents
Image Credit: Joman Laxamana

In another location at Cutud, City of San Fernando, thousands of people witnessed the crucifixion performed once more. The place is more secure now, as local and foreign tourists witness The Crucifixion. When asked why they do it, one penitent’s reply was:

“Gusto kong makibahagi sa paghihirap ni Kristo. Sa ganitong paraan,  nasisigurado ko ang kaligtasan ng pamilya ko buong taon.”

(I want to join in Christ’s suffering. By doing this, I save my family from danger and misfortune for another year.)

Aside from Cutud, there are smaller Calvary trails found in Pampanga, in Barrio Pampang, in Angeles City, a similar event takes place, and “Pabasa” (Lenten readings) is erected in each sitio.

The Crucifixion
Image Credit: Joman Laxamana

The firm belief of these penitents that crucifying themselves will protect them and their families from harm is what one can perhaps call as True Faith from the penitents’ point of view.

The Catholic Church however, discourages these activities stating that there are more valid ways for penitents, than crucifixion, to observe Holy Week.

According to Philstar, April 21, 2011, Bishop Paciano Aniceto, Archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga said that:

“The “crucifixion” is one of the Filipino practices that has gone astray.”

No one can deny the fact though, that the practice has restored the peace of mind of many of the penitents.

Saturday is Sabbath Day, the day when Jesus Christ was entombed. Easter Sunday, on the other hand, would come as a joyful celebration of the Risen Christ as the whole Catholic community will celebrate life and resurrection.

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