As the only officially Catholic country in Asia, the Philippines, thanks to Father Pedro de Valderama who arrived with Spanish explorer Magellan in the early 1500s, is gearing up for Easter. And there are few places on Earth where religious fervor is matched in such graphic shows of penitence and resolve to do better. Although there are calmer, more sedate versions of the Good Friday celebratory happenings, the most extreme are the Penitencia where people mirror Jesus’ suffering by being nailed to a cross. Others dress up like Roman soldiers. Really. There’s a bit more to it than this, and no one actually dies, but it sure isn’t pleasant. The government and the Catholic Church both frown on the practice, but those who are involved are determined.
Tourists do show up. If you’re interested, here’s a link that lists some of these Good Friday events. I also found this interesting read by Larry Kingston in the online travel magazine The Tangent-Ezine. Kingston was an eyewitness to last year’s event. Besides providing an account of the happenings and his impressions, his article is filled with photographs. The photo here is of people waiting for the crucifixion to take place. These crosses are part of the scenery.