Crucifixion in the Philippines

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Good Friday observances in Barangay San Pedro Cutud, in San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines.

Crucifixion in the Philippines is a devotional practice held every Good Friday, and is part of the local observance of Holy Week. Devotees or penitents called magdarame in Kapampangan are willingly crucified in imitation of Jesus Christ's suffering and death, while related practices include carrying wooden crosses, crawling on rough pavement, and self-flagellation. Penitents consider these acts to be mortification of the flesh, and undertake these to ask forgiveness for sins, to fulfil a panatà (Filipino, "vow"), or to express gratitude for favours granted. In the most famous case, Ruben Enaje drives four-inch nails into both hands and feet and then he is lifted on a wooden cross for around five minutes.[1]

These customs are strongly discouraged by the Catholic Church in the Philippines, which considers them to be fanatical, superstitious expressions of Folk Catholicism and self-harm contrary to its teachings on the body. The Department of Health meanwhile often insists that participants in the rites should have tetanus shots and that the nails used should be sterilized.[2]

San Pedro Cutud, San Fernando[edit]

San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites in City of San Fernando, Pampanga. There are three crosses with nailed men on the top of the hill with spectators, both local and foreigners, watching them.

The San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites are a re-enactment of Christ’s Passion and crucifixion held in Barangay San Pedro Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga. It includes a passion play, culminating in the actual nailing of at least three penitents wooden crosses atop a makeshift Calvary.

  • Ruben Enaje has been crucified 33 times as of 2019.[3] He began his yearly rite after surviving a fall from a three-story billboard in 1986.[4] Other penitents crucified with Enaje on Good Friday 2013 were Angelito Mengillo; Arnold Meniego; Byron Gómez; Willy Salvador; Angelito Manansala; Jonny Manansala; Marben Unquico; Arnel Sanggalang; Victor Caparas; Rolando Ocampo; Orlando Valentin; Arnel Reyes; Rolando Baking; and four others.[5]
  • Ramíl Lázaro – a dishwasher, wheeler, and pedicab driver, also got his share of stainless steel nails along with five penitents on Good Friday at San Pedro Cutud, on Good Friday, April 6, 2012. He is expected to the take the role of Christ, replacing Enaje[6]
Enaje on his 25th annual crucifixion.
  • Alex Laranang – 59, who claims to have been crucified every year since 2000.[7]
  • Bobby Gómez – was crucified on Good Friday 2012.[8]
  • Arturo Bating – 44 (last 2012) had four-inch nails driven through his palms for the first time in Good Friday of 2012.[9]

Paombong, Bulacan[edit]

Crucifixions are also held in Barangay Kapitangan, Paombong, Bulacan [10] which is a locally-known pilgrimage area and haven for faith healers[11] Many women have been nailed to the cross, acting from directions "from above", possessed by Santo Nino or Jesus Nazareno.[12]

  • Percy Valencia – 41, one of a handful of women who are also crucified annually. Nailed to the cross on 6 April 2012.[13]
  • Rady Gonzales – of Barangay Sto. Rosario, stayed nailed on the wooden cross for about 10 minutes as the crowd sang the Lord's Prayer.
  • Buboy Dionisio – also of Barangay Sto. Rosario, nailed for the ninth consecutive year in 2012. He said he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary giving him three nails the first time he underwent crucifixion. He said that every year, he saw different visions which came before Holy Week.[14]
  • JonJon Tanael – of Barangay Bulihan, Malolos City, on 6 April 2012.[15]
  • Rolando Ocampo - 56, has been crucified every year since 1990 as a sign of his gratitude to God. He says God miraculously saved his wife from a difficult child birth in that year. Ocampo prepares for his crucifixion for days in advance. He spends time alone and engages in deep meditation before the day on which he will share in Christ's suffering.[16]
  • John Safran (pseudonym John Michael) - a 37-year-old Australian media personality and author from Melbourne who wore a long wig and a tin crown of thorns on 10 April 2009.[17][18][19]
  • A 15-year-old boy and 18-year-old girl in 2008.[20]

Duljo-Fatima, Cebu City[edit]

  • Gilbert Bargayo – crucified for the 15th time in Carcar, Cebu, and for the 17th time in Barangay Duljo-Fatima, Cebu City in 2012. Six-inch nails pierced his palms and feet, and took 45 minutes to all be hammered in.[21]


The Siete Palabras (Seven Last Words) play in Angeles, Pampanga, depicts the sufferings of Christ from his sentencing by Pontius Pilate to his death.[22] This takes the form of a colourful street play, with dozens of men carrying wooden crosses as heavy as 50 kg (110 pounds) and scores flagellating themselves in Barangay Lourdes Northwest, Angeles, between 14:00 and 15:00 PST (GMT+8),[23]



  1. ^ "Every year a Filipino man marks Good Friday with an actual crucifixion. He just did it for the 33rd time". CNN. March 25, 2016. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "Boy, 15, nailed to a cross as Filipinos whip and crucify themselves in gory Good Friday ritual". Daily Mail. London. 2008-03-22. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "Every year a Filipino man marks Good Friday with an actual crucifixion. He just did it for the 33rd time". CNN. March 25, 2016. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  4. ^ Cabrera, Michaela (March 19, 2013). "Devotees nailed to cross in Philippine folk Catholicism ritual". Reuters. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  5. ^ Sapnu, Ric. "20 to be crucified on Good Friday". The Philippine Star. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "Penitents: crucifixion a way of thanking God". Yahoo Philippines News. Manila Bulletin. March 30, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  7. ^ "Filipino fanatics re-enact crucifixion for Good Friday". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Agence France-Presse. April 7, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  8. ^ Rob Cooper (2012-04-06). "Christians NAILED to crosses in gruesome Good Friday re-enactment of Jesus's death in the Philippines | Mail Online". Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  9. ^ "20 Good Friday Devotees Crucified In Philippines During Bloody Re-Enactment: 'I Do This For My God' [PHOTOS]". 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2014-01-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ wanderkind. "Post a blog Search/Book Hotels Pilgrimage to the Lourdes Grotto in Bulacan, Philippines". Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  12. ^ Bräunlein, Peter (2009). "Negotiating Charisma: The Social Dimension of Philippine Crucifixion Rituals". Asian Journal of Social Science. 37 (6): 892–917. doi:10.1163/156848409X12526657425262.
  13. ^ "SEE IT: Fervent Filipino Catholics nailed to crosses for Good Friday". NY Daily News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  14. ^ Aquino, Leslie Ann G. (2012-04-06). "20 Nailed to Crosses in Luzon". Entertainment Section. The Manila Bulletin. p. 1. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  15. ^ "Filipino Good Friday devotees nailed to crosses". 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2014-01-21. (dead link 22 July 2020)
  16. ^ Candela, Miguel (2013-03-30). "Meet the men who are crucified on Good Friday | CNN Travel". Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  17. ^ "Crucifixion re-enactment is annual Good Friday rite in Philippines". NY Daily News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  18. ^ "Comic nailed to cross for 'forensic' insight". 9 News. 11 April 2009. Archived from the original on 13 April 2009.
  19. ^ "Triple J's Safran crucified in Philippines". ABC News. Australia. 12 April 2009.
  20. ^ "PHOTO: 15-Year-Old Boy Crucified on Good Friday - Asia - Around the globe - World". 2008-03-21. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  21. ^ "Gilbert Bargayo nailed to cross for the 17th time in Cebu". Sun.Star. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  22. ^ Baluyut, Joelyn G. (5 April 2012). "Feature: Siete Palabras in Angeles". Philippine Information Agency. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  23. ^ "Angeles to stage 'Siete Palabras 2013'". Headline Gitnang Luzon. 2013-03-26. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  • The Crucifixion of Jesus, Completely Revised and Expanded: A Forensic Inquiry by Frederick T. Zugibe / Hardcover: 352 pages, Publisher: M. Evans & Company; 2nd Edition (April 1, 2005) ISBN 978-1590770702