The annual Philippine ritual draws thousands of spectators to
San Fernando, 80 km (50 miles) north of Manila, to see penitents
flagellate themselves and a series of crucifixions in a
recreation of Christ's death on the cross.
"It was a great experience between me and God," 48-year-old
Danish film director and stunt coordinator Lasse Spang Olsen,
who stayed on the cross for more than 10 minutes, told Reuters
before being treated for his wounds. "It was great. It was fun."
But for some in the Philippines, where about 80 percent of the
population are Catholics, the re-enactments of the crucifixion
are an extreme display of devotion.
Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ died on the cross on Good
Friday and rose from the dead two days later, on Easter Sunday.
"I will do it as long as my body will allow me," said Danilo
Ramos, 43, who has been crucified 23 times. "I hope God will see
my sacrifice and take good care of my family."
The Roman Catholic Church denounces the ritual, which took hold
in northern Pampanga province about 60 years ago, as
self-serving and a corruption of the message of Christ's
suffering for others.
"Penance does not mean you hurt yourself, because your body is a
temple that houses the spirit," said Archbishop Aniceto Paciano
of San Fernando.
The carnival-like atmosphere in Cutud village draws thousands of
foreign and local tourists each year. British casino worker
Emily Ebswoth, 24, said she had never seen anything like it.
"I don't like it," she told Reuters. "It's bloody and gory."
(Additional reporting by Pedro Uchi, Jess Malabanan and Peter
Blaza; writing by Manny Mogato; editing by Nick Macfie)
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