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The title isn’t clickbait, I actually went to the Philippines to watch guys get crucifed, by choice, to prove their devotion to God. Intense.

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Ok, so here’s the deal.  90% of the Philippines in staunchly Catholic, and every Easter, Good Friday to be exact, in Pampanga district just north of Manilla the capital, people volunteer to be crucifed with their hands and feet nailed to a cross. Yup, volunteer. Then the less hard-core, but still pretty crazy guys, whip their backs with a long rope with small razors on it. Ouch.

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I’ve been to the Philippines a few times and it’s one of my favourite countries in the world – the people are super friendly, there’s so much to see and so many beautiful islands on offer, I had heard rumours of this event for years but never managed to see it. So, one day in Bangkok, I took the plunge, booked flights and went, and honestly it was one of the most intense experiences of my life.

The places is super crowded with up to 50, 000 people coming to join in and watch events unfold. As you approach on taxi you reach some heavy traffic and have to walk the remaining kms due to the sheer numbers. From that moment on, the madness starts.

Before you get to the hill where the crucifixations happen, there are groups of men walking shirtless in the same direction, but their progress is much slower. They are ritually undergoing self flagellatiion, whipping themselves every five second until their  backs are literally red raw, covered in blood. The streets are covered in bloody, and I even managed to get a few specks on me too, it’s almost unavoidable as everywhere you look there are boy, as young as teenagers, doing this. Crazy sights.

Specks of blood on my shorts :S
Specks of blood on my shorts :S

Finally you reach the main event and their is a huge crowd. ‘Helpers’ dressed up as Romans to mimic Jesus getting crucified help the volunteers up the hill, the lie down on the cross and you start to hear the screaming. Slowly the bang the nails through their hands and feet, one nail in each limb, then they hoist the cross up tall. Three of them, all crucified, just as it was in the Bible. People are praying everywhere, the guys are screaming and when they take a break from screaming, they’re reciting bible verses. You can see the blood dripping from the edge of the cross, it’s pretty grim. After some time passes, they’re let down, Normally to a waiting ambulance where they have a chance to recover, as the next set of volunteers ready themselves. And on the day goes.
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Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.24.30 PMThe rest of the town is in quite a relaxed mood – stalls selling ice-creams and beers, people playing music. For them, they see it every year so perhaps the spectacle isn’t as shocking but for me, it was an eye opener. If you’re in Asia over Easter ever, make the effort to go and check this out, it’s certainly a story for the Grandkids.

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The participants believe they’ve done something wrong in their lives, and their begging forgiveness from God. Also, if something ‘lucky’ in their life has occured like their mother surviving cancer earlier in the year, then they offer their bodies to God and say thanks by putting themselves through this ordeal.

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The ceremony happens on Luzon, the main island. You can either fly into Manilla’s international airport and take a bus or fly into Clarke Airport and stay around their, organise a taxi to take you the rest of the distance to San Juan.

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And of course, me on facebook uploading pics of it, nothing changes 😛

Ok, that’s the long and short of it. Hope it made you guys want to explore the Philippines a little bit more, it’s an amazing country, with such a strong culture, I can’t wait to go back and explore more. Happy travels.

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20 thoughts on “Watching a Crucifixion Ceremony in the Philippines

  1. This is crazy! But I can imagine it’s something you will never forget. Very interesting, thanks for sharing!

  2. Each Catholic country has a Via Crucis ceremony in which the passion of the Christ is represented – but this surely goes beyond what anybody may imagine. I don’t think I could have watched this without running around screaming at people that they are insane!!

  3. Johnny you are doing great.i visit your page everyday. someone like me learns so much from your website
    i am writing blog about my is in Turkish. When i saw your blog,i start to write in English. i hope people like my first page my home town fairy land with fairy chimneys and rock formations used as a house,storeroom or hotel.I call it the flintstones, STILL PEOPLE LIVES IN A CAVE. Do you believe it?

  4. Thanks for the nice words about the Philippines.About the cruxifiction its their penetence to repent the sins they committed .They do that not only in Pampanga .

  5. Intense is probably the word I would use too. I’d go to something like this out of sheer curiosity, but might be cringing the whole time. Cool post, definitely eye opening

  6. I haven’t seen this but I’ve been about this many times and I don’t think I would like what I’m going to witness. I’ve seen some pics, well added with yours, and they’re pretty much intense, yes. and bloody, like oh my god. I also visited Pampanga, and I loved their food! the people are so friendly and very hospitable, and they did invited me to come back on their holy week festival, but after learning about it, I said, oh no no no, thank you. 😛

  7. Hi Johnny. Your story continues to inspire me. I hope that one day, I will also be able to travel anywhere in the world like you 🙂 Hope my blog will also be as successful as yours. 🙂

  8. i cant believe they do that here in Guatemala catholics do something similar but is so different but is in the same dates so if you have the chance to come sometime i recomend to you it is a great experience, and let me tell you this is crazy when you read the bible you understand that jesus died for you in the cross so this is not neccessary

  9. This is really nice to watching in a crucifixion ceremony with the Philippines for the beautiful journey in all around the great country of India. I like to the best journey for all of them with there some attracts the Travellers.

  10. Oh my word, as someone who is about as big of a religious non-believer as they come, I find this insane. However, on the other hand, I see things like this and can’t help but wonder what it’s like to believe in something so strongly, that you’d be willing to put yourself through such pain, and it definitely makes me curious, that’s for sure.

    I hope you managed to get the blood out of your shorts!

  11. As a Filipino, I would rather see them do acts of mercy than hurting themselves. It is more productive and safe than what they are doing.

  12. thanks for telling us the data about the philippines………please come and visit my country INDIA…..i will be there to entertain you

  13. Thanks for sharing this Johnny… Glad you had a great time here in my country… Come back coz there is so much more to see and experience… 🙂

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