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Philippines marks Good Friday with crucifixions, flagellations

More than a dozen penitents were nailed to wooden crosses in the Philippines on Friday, while others whipped their backs bloody in gory re-enactments of Jesus Christ’s death.
The Good Friday rituals, the highlight of Easter week celebrations in the predominantly Catholic country, were held in several villages amid intense summer heat and humidity that triggered rain showers in some areas.
The most popular site of the crucifixions is the village of San Pedro Cutud in Pampanga province, about 60 kilometres north of Manila, where thousands of visitors gathered to witness the extreme acts of faith.
Ruben Enaje, 63, took the lead role in the annual tradition in San Pedro Cutud and was crucified for the 35th time after carrying a 37-kilo wooden cross for almost two kilometres to a hill.
The grandfather of seven vowed to continue leading the crucifixions for as long as he physically could.
“I keep saying that last year was the last time, so I won’t say it again,” he said. “When my body fails, that will be the last.”
Aside from praying for more blessings for his family, Enaje said he also asked for protection for the Philippines, its government leaders, and its people, especially amid the conflict with China due to overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
“China may be bigger than us, but we have the Lord on our side,” he said. “Nothing is impossible with God.”
The Catholic Church does not encourage extreme acts of faith but does little to stop the practice.
Easter week is the most important religious event in the Philippines, where more than 85 percent of the population is Catholic. (dpa/NAN)
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