Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Cutud Lenten Rites of Pampanga

It has been a long time that I wanted to cover this annual event in Pampanga. It is only now that I had that chance to go and see. It was fulfilling to witness the Cutud Lenten Rites. It was like going also on penitence since I went to San Fernando City and took a walk for a kilometer under the scorching heat of the sun to the village of San Pedro. This event created traffic towards the direction of the venue since a lot people local and foreign alike went to see this event.

San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites is world-famous for the re-enactment of the Christ's Passion and Death. It usually takes place on Good Friday. It is a passion play that culminates in the nailing of the three penitents on the wooden cross. This year there were eleven who submitted themselves for nailing. Mostly men who are being nailed on the cross but there were occasions women do. They are being nailed with the use of two-inch stainless steel soaked in a bottle of alcohol to disinfect them.

From the city, I walked with some people then later I saw some young men going on flagellation. They were lined up with the first one carrying the big cross and the rest whipped their backs with a bundle of sticks. Their heads were covered with black cloth and torns were placed on their heads. Their backs were bleeding as they constantly whip.

Streaks of blood got into my white shirt and cannot avoid since they just suddenly appear on your side or back. I have seen that they really have to cut the skin with blades and whip it to continue on bleeding. These group had to stop at a church they passed by. They lied in prone position and they are being whipped by somebody else and turned their bodies in four quarters.

The passion play started at the barangay hall of the San Pedro. It started at 12 noon. People were waiting for the capture of the character Jesus Christ. His hands were tied while he was presented and was sentenced by Pontius Pilate at the stage. It was Boy Padilla who represented as Pontius Pilate. I was able to have him for a short interview. There were horses and a chariot who took Jesus Christ. Later he was taken around for the different stations of the cross. It was another kilometer that I walked under the sun and dust. Then Jesus Christ character carried his cross to the calvary. Along the stations, three women in his life appeared, cried and prayed for him.

A 50 year old Kapampangan carpenter Ruben Enage plays the character of Jesus Christ. He was nailed on a wooden cross for the 25th time after his first in 1985. He was taken to the top of the hill in Cutud and was crucified there. All guests were restricted to get close to the hill as it was fenced for the final ceremony. After two batches of penitents nailed, the public went up the hill and got to see up close the nailing of the hands and feet of penitents on the crosses. They shout loud as they were being nailed. It was too painful I can say. After getting some close up photos of the penitents on the hill, I was so exhausted because of the heat.But I had a meaningful Good Friday. Learning much more of the love of God to all people.

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