Monday, March 24, 2008

Good Friday Turned Bad, But Still Good.

There were people who believe that getting into heaven means hurting themselves and even imitating the crucifixion
of Jesus Christ. They show it off in the annual Maleldo, a tradition of flagellation and crucifixion in the city of San Fernando, Pampanga Province, Philippines.

I've been aching to see this event since a child. But my parents won't allow me for the fear of me being lost in the thick crowd. Amazingly, my father told me last week that his brother is going there to accompany a Chinese-American guest.
The next day, Holy Thursday, I packed my bag and went straight to Pampanga.

On the way to Barangay Cutud where the event is held, we walked 2-3 kilometers under the scorching sun as public transportation is not available. Along the way, we encountered the penitents with their cross and wooden whips with blood splattering around. After walking a few meters, the penitents stopped for a while and drank a yellowish-colored liquid in a small plastic bag. Later that day, I found out that it is actually beer (to induce bleeding) after a penitent got drunk and caused a show. (Picture at left)

We followed the penitents until we got t
o our destination: a dessert-like field with a small hill in the center on which three crosses were erected. Beside the hill is the media podium and a small stage for the (masochists) VIPs who reserved their seats to get a good view of the crucifixion. There were many kiosks and booths around, selling food, hats, memorabilia, umbrellas and even prepaid cell phones.

Supposedly, the crucifixion would take place at noon but it happened at three in the afternoon. So, we waited for four hours in the unforgiving sun who gave us the sunburns. (I pity Jon, the Chinese-American guest, as he's not used to the heat. I can't remember how many bottles of water
he drank that day...) To combat the sun, my cousins created a mobile tent consisting of two malongs tied to an umbrella which serves as the central core. Nice!

3pm came and the crucifixion began (which by the way is highly-stylized and tends to go over the top that sadly lost its sincerity). Surprisingly, once "Jesus Christ" got hoisted up, the crowd began to succumb to the narrow exit. Like me, I just wanted to see how the "actor" reacts to his nailing. hehehe...

On the other note, I think it is not appropriate to hurt one's self just to gain entry to Christ's kingdom. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we need not replicate it. But this is a crazy confusing world, right? I think we just need to respect them as different people have different views in life.

Anyway, I enjoyed the event, albeit the heat, the crowd and the carnival feel of it.

All I can say is, this event is for the religious, freak-finders, entrepreneurs and those wanting an uneven tan.