Lately, I’ve been watching the TV series Spartacus a lot. I got to familiarize myself with Batiatus, Crixus, Doctore, flesh (literally and figuratively), blood, ludus, gladiators, Lucretia, slavery, trust, and loyalty.

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And this year, I spent another day (my fourth year) witnessing how devoted some Catholics are to their faith.

Good Friday
Line to Heaven.

Marinduque and Pampanga are well-known for its hardcore flagellants including those that get nailed in a wooden cross just like Christ. But I don’t have to be far just to visit those provinces as my very own Mandaluyong has its version of Penitensya (penitence). Activities here start Thursday afternoon with a 24-hour Pasyon (narrative of Christ’s death and resurrection) and end at 3PM of Friday when it is said that Jesus have died. It is also this time that people are completely exhausted from all these blood splashing and throat-numbing chanting of the Pasyon.

Good Friday
Blood and Cement

I was baptized a Catholic and went to Catholic schools all my life but never have I tried any of these peculiar practices. If I want to get hurt, I’ll just ask my Mom to hit me with her belt or a broomstick. It’s as easy as that. What do these flagellants get from these practices? I’ve overheard someone that it’s just like the extreme rendition of a Panata (pledge) wherein you ask or wish for something and when it happens or comes true, you need to do something in return. Makes sense. But don’t we have prayers to say our thanks? Well, to each his own.

Good Friday
The Brotherhood of the Flagellating Pants

The only positive thing I can tell about these practices is that we get to show the world that our faith hasn’t changed since the Spanish invasion. It’s like a viral disease that is being passed on to every generation. The flagellants even get younger each year.

Good Friday
Kneel before tHe(i)m

On the other hand, once all these activities are done, the streets of Manila become a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie: clean and quiet. Wonder where have all the people gone? Off to their provinces or nearby towns for a vacation, very typical for the Filipinos taking advantage of one of our many holidays.

Good Friday
Good Friday = Feast for Others

I imagine how the only Filipino saint Lorenzo Ruiz endured all the pains he went through when he was asked to give up his faith in exchange of his life. Nah. I need not to imagine things, his faith and beliefs as a Catholic are all the proofs I need.

For now, I will continue watching on Spartacus with its blood and cement sand.

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