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PH observes Good Friday with crucifixions, whippings

CATHOLIC zealots in the Philippines re-enacting the last moments of Jesus Christ were nailed to wooden crosses while others whipped themselves bloody in extreme displays of religious devotion on Good Friday.

While most Filipinos went to church or spent the holiday with family, thousands gathered in villages around San Fernando City, north of Manila, to watch men punish themselves in a bid to atone for their sins or seek miracles from God.

Dozens of bare-chested flagellants wearing black shrouds and crowns made of vines walked barefoot through dusty, narrow streets, rhythmically flogging their backs with strips of bamboo tied to ropes, their blood soaking the top of their trousers and spattering onlookers.

Some lay face down on the ground to be whipped and beaten by others; razor blades are sometimes used to draw blood.

«This is for my son, an epileptic,» said Joel Yutoc, who has his 13-year-old son's name tattooed across his chest.

Yutoc, 31, said his son had not had seizures in the eight years since he began taking part in the Good Friday floggings.

The whippings are the opening act of street plays performed by devout residents.


In San Juan village, a short, wiry man with wild, white hair playing the role of Jesus Christ and two others were dragged by neighbors dressed as Roman centurions to a raised mound where wooden crosses lay on the ground.

As spectators filmed on their mobile phones, three-inch nails were driven into the men's palms, and the crosses were hoisted upright.

Several minutes later, the crosses were lowered to the ground and the nails pulled out.

«I will keep doing this while I'm alive, for as long as my body is able to do it. That is my vow,» said retired fisherman Wilfredo Salvador, 67, who began playing the role of Jesus Christ in the mock crucifixions 16 years ago following a mental breakdown.


«This is nothing. Sometimes it heals after a day, and I am able to wash dishes and bathe,» Salvador said of his wounds.

San Juan homemaker Marilyn Lovite, 41, said she watches the gruesome re-enactment every year to «learn about the suffering of Christ.»

«If you were to merely read it in the Bible, you would not really