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Being a predominantly Catholic nation, the Philippines is host to an ‘endless’ religious festivals and celebrations. Next to Christmas, the Lenten season, which falls either on March or April, is celebrated throughout the country. Conventionally, this is a 40-day affair representing the time, according to the Bible, Jesus spent in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan.
The traditional purpose of Lent is to prepare a believer – through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday. The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter”, a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.
People observe the season by usually reading (or singing) the Passion; fasting or abstinence from eating meat, particularly pork; and on the extreme, self flagellation and crucifixion.
Although crucifixion rites are perform in many places around the country, nowhere is it more evident than in the small town of Cutud, Pampanga.
A mere 2-hour drive north of Manila, the province of Pampanga (its capital being San Fernando City) is located in Central Luzon, it enjoys the distinction of being known as the culinary heart of the Philippines.
The Cutud crucifixion, perform every year on a Good Friday around noontime, has now become more of a commercial event that seeks to attract tourists both foreign and local. Anywhere from 2 to as many as 8 persons volunteered to be crucify, both men and women. Other penitents, with their faces covered in thin cloths, wearing a crown of thorns, beat themselves in the back with bamboo sticks tied to a rope as they parade around town. The penitents perform these rites believing them to be for the forgiveness of sins or as gratitude for prayers answered.
The Catholic Church authority does not endorse crucifixion nor approves of it, nevertheless, a certain degree of tolerance is granted as being a community ‘tradition’.
All VRs taken on March 21, 2008. Portions of text from wikipedia.org. The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org