Nine men have volunteered to be crucified in the annual reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion in San Fernando on Good Friday.
San Pedro Cutud barangay captain Zoilo Castro said two of this year’s “Senakulo” participants were from Mindoro while the rest are locals from Pampanga province.
The first to be nailed to the cross tomorrow will be 52-year-old painter and decorator Ruben Enaje who has been taking the role of Jesus Christ for the past 32 years.
However, due to old age and the bloody ritual’s impact on his health, Mr Enaje said he might give up being nailed to a cross after two more crucifixions.
He said his long run of being crucified was his way of thanking God after he survived a fall from a three-storey building he was painting many years ago.
Every year, the Department of Health tries to discourage men from engaging in crucifixion rites and self-flagellation — “penitensiya” — due to the possibility of infection, in particular tetanus.
“It will be better if they stop self-flagellation,” health secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference on Tuesday.
“There are really no known benefits of doing this. It will be better for those who have intentions to self-flagellate to instead help the least disadvantaged sectors of society.”
In line with the health warning, participants are now expected to provide their own nails for the act of crucifixion.
In the case of Mr Enaje, he says his nails have been soaking in alcohol for almost a year.
In the case of the other instruments of torture used in the rites, organisers say these are always very carefully sterilised. However, Mr Duque cautioned: “Even if you say the whips were cleaned, they will eventually get dirty.”
About 50,000 devotes and tourists are expected to throng to the Easter event, who will be watched over by a team of 400 security officers.
Local officials also advised their visitors to dress appropriately in respect to the barangay’s highly-sought event.
They have also reminded visitors that posing for selfies on the crosses could be considered disrespectful.
The first re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion — or Via Crucis — was first performed in San Fernando in 1955. However, it wasn’t until 1962 that volunteers began to be physically nailed to crosses.
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