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'Penitents not paid for real-life crucifixion'.

Manila: Organisers belied reports that penitents have been paid to undergo the painful rites of real-life crucifixion which has become tourist attractions in three towns in San Fernando, central Luzon, a local newspaper said.

Almost a dozen of penitents who were nailed to wooden crosses in Cutud San Fernando on Good Friday did so to commemorate a traditional religious practice, Cutud San Fernando village chief Remegio de la Cruz told the Inquirer.

"They regard it as a form of penance. It is part of tradition in Cutud," de la Cruz said, adding that Ruben Enaje, 54, who has played the role of Jesus Christ in Cutud, for 23 years has done it voluntarily, year after year.

"He has offered himself to be nailed to the cross as a thanksgiving since he survived a fall from a three-storey building in 1986," explained de la Cruz. Enaje, a humble resident of Cutud, works as a house painter and makes streamers for a living.

Cutud's local executive committee has raised more than P300,000 (Dh27,272) from donors for the lenten season, said sources, adding that no amount went to those who wanted to be nailed to the cross or to those who underwent flagellation for two days as a form of penance.

Before noon, Cutud's time for crucifixion, some 700 residents, young and old, naked up to the waist, had withstood the heat and pain for four hours as they whipped their backs with glass shards attached to leather whips. They have been whipping themselves since Thursday. In the past, a Belgian nun and a Japanese man had joined Cutud's ritual of real-life crucifixion

The popularity of Cutud's practice of real-life crucifixion has inspired nearby villages of San Pedro, Saint Lucia, and San Juan, all in San Fernando, to hold their respective real-life crucifixion.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Apr 11, 2009
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