For over three hundred years under the rule of the Spaniards, the Philippines, a tiny archipelago in the Pacific has adopted most of Spain’s customs, especially in its religiosity. But one of the most interesting traditions that made Filipinos unique is their way of commemorating Jesus Christ’s suffering during his final hours is the Sinakulo.
According to the website Oxford Reference, Sinakulo, is the Filipino’s way of dramatizing the Passion of Christ in a theatrical way. It’s usually performed during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday.
The Philippines’ version of dramatizing Christ’s sufferings is performed at a different level. Unlike in other countries, some areas in the Philippines practice the almost real life version of the Sinakulo. In fact, a local paper Inquirer reported that some men prepare the whole year to be crucified for real using real nails, the same length as what the Bible described.
In Pampanga, north of Manila, police officials are on full alert in anticipation of the multitude of tourists from all over the world wanting to witness the true-to-life crucifixions. According to PhilStar, Sinakulo are being done annually in this part of the world. However, tourists has kept coming back to a particular small town, the San Pedro Cutud. Here, Roben Enaje, popularly known as “Kristo,” would be nailed to the cross for the 30th year.
In a separate report from Inquirer, Enaje said that he originally vowed to be nailed on the cross for 27 years as a thanksgiving after he survived his fall from a three-story building back in 1985. However, there is no one else to replace him yet, hence his continued sacrifice. “I could not stop unless someone suitable takes my place,” he explained.
The SNI, a local production based in Cainta, Rizal, south of Manila, on the other hand, also stages one of the most anticipated Sinakulo productions in the country. “The cast members are not professional actors and actresses. They are tricycle drivers, housewives and students who perform as part of their Holy Week devotion. Their acting may not be perfect but they deliver,” Paraiso Cruz of the SNI board told the Inquirer.
Cruz added that their production is mainly based on the Catholic faith and part of their effort to remind Filipinos, especially the youth, about how Christ suffered on the cross for the world’s salvation. The production, which source funds from local government and donations from private individuals, has won local awards for their annual depiction of Christ’s sufferings.