On Holy Week Good Friday which falls on March 30 this year, all roads lead to Pampanga, in particular, the village of Cutud in San Fernando where crowds gather to watch Filipino devotees offer themselves to be whipped and nailed to the cross in a re-enactment of Jesus Christ's crucifixion.
This is part of the village's observation of Via Crucis or Way of the Cross, where penitents carry the cross and undergo an actual crucifixion in order to atone for their sins, or as an offering to God in exchange for granting one's prayer, or as a way to thank God for his blessings. It is not sanctioned by the Catholic church, but the practice continues each year, attracting thousands of spectators.
In the nearby village of Sta. Lucia, devotees called magdarame whip themselves with wooden sticks tied to one end of a rope until the skin on their backs break and bleed, another street re-enactment of the Passion of Christ called Ing Lasa Ning Guinu. Some of the locals believe flagellation is a way to give thanks to the Lord and to ask pardon for one’s sins.
In Manila and many parts of the Philippines, locals observe Holy Week by visiting seven or 14 churches as part of a tradition called Visita Iglesia. In each church, the faithful recite the Station of the Cross and pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Pampanga, about one hour’s drive from Quezon City in Manila, is also a good place to hold the Visita Iglesia, since it has a number of churches with cultural and historical significance, including the San Fernando Metropolitan Cathedral, San Agustin Church in Lubao, Santiago de Apostol Church in Betis, San Guillermo Church in Bacolor, Holy Rosary Church in Angeles, Santa Monica Church in Minalin and San Luis Church in San Luis, to name a few.
Contact the City Tourism Office of San Fernando, Pampanga for more information.
-Monica De Leon
Published April 2017. Updated March 2018