14 men re-enact Christ's crucifixion in gory spectacle

SAN FERNANDO -- At least 14 men were nailed to crosses in a re-enactment of a Good Friday ritual, which one of the men dedicated to the victims of the deadly bombings of two churches in Egypt.

Ruben Enaje, 57, who has been re-enacting Jesus Christ's suffering and death for the past 31 years, said he always prays for the health of his family during the ritual. But this time he added the victims of the Egyptian attacks, which killed 45 people and wounded dozens on Palm Sunday.

"As long as we trust in the Lord, praying fervently, it's never too far that the Lord won't listen," Enaje said after he was briefly nailed by the hands and feet, grimacing in pain.

Eight other men were also crucified atop a local version of Cavalry in San Pedro Cutud village and two others also volunteered to undergo the same painful rite in San Juan village and three more in Sta. Lucia village in this capital city.

Meanwhile, hundreds of flagellants also manifested their faith by beating themselves with improvised materials such as bamboo whips.

Several actors and actresses wearing crowns of thorns and Roman outfits as re-enactment of the passion of Christ in the Via Crucis also joined Maleldo 2017.

The gory spectacle reflects the Philippines' unique brand of Catholicism, which merges church traditions with folk superstitions. Many of the mostly impoverished penitents undergo the ritual to atone for sins, pray for the sick or for a better life, and to give thanks for what they believe were God-given miracles.

The event known as Maleldo, a Kapampangan term for Holy Week, attracts thousands of local and foreign pilgrims and tourists to witness the Lenten rites which has become an annual tradition in this city since 1962.

The Lenten rituals are frowned upon by church leaders in the Philippines, Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation, especially if the event is used to boost tourism. The re-enactments of the crucifixion, however, have persisted and became an awaited tourist attraction in this area some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Manila.

All of those who took part were attended by doctors. (AP)

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