April 14, 2001 -- Blood sprayed, nails bit into flesh and the water and fan salesmen did a roaring trade. This is Easter, Philippines style.
The small, sleepy town of Cutud, about 50 miles north ofManila, comes alive every Good Friday in a re-enactment of thecrucifixion of Jesus Christ in this devoutly Roman Catholiccountry.
Despite the orthodox Church frowning on the ritual,participants whip themselves and a number are nailed tomakeshift wooden crosses for several minutes to atone for sinsand in some cases to seek cures for sick relatives.
Three-Inch Nails Driven
This year, 11 men and one woman underwent the crucifixionordeal while more than 20 young men chose to be flagellants --whipping their backs into a bloody smear after being cut with aglass embedded instrument.
"I am the actress of Jesus on Good Friday," said faithhealer Amparo Santos of Bulacan shortly before she hadthree-inch nails driven through her right and left hands and onto a large wooden cross.
Why does she do it? "Because Jesus is the one that hascalled me for this kind of position."
While grimacing as the nails went in, the spritely60-year-old was soon composed, chatting and laughing and evenanswering questions from the assembled audience.
Santos said she was being crucified for the 14th time andintended to go through it again next Easter.
Chito Sangalang, 45, who played the role of Christ in are-enactment of the original crucifixion, along with othersdressed as Pontius Pilate and Roman soldiers, was back for his15th year, having earlier vowed that this would be his last.
Over 1,000 people, many of them foreign tourists, gatheredto witness the bloody spectacle with spectators jostling forthe best camera positions as water and fan salesmen were keptbusy in the searing heat.