By Jhon Aldrin Casinas
A group of hooded men whip their bare backs covered in blood as a form of penitence for their sins in Mandaluyong City on Maundy Thursday.
Barefoot men walk the tight and narrow streets of Barangay Poblacion and Hagdang Bato Itaas in Mandaluyong City while lashing themselves with wooden sticks or chains tied together to form a whip.
With every strike they land, hot red blood oozes out from small cuts on their backs.
The gory and bloody practice is part of the annual tradition of Catholic Filipinos during the Holy Week every month of April.
Joven Pablo, 49, who earlier participated in the religious practice, said that repentance for their sins is not only the reason why they practice the tradition.
“We also do this for our family. We pray to God that He will bless our family and keep us away from harm. We also thank Him for all the blessings we received,” said Pablo who started participating in the tradition in 2016.
Pablo, who earlier had around 20 small cuts on his back, said that his injuries do not hurt very much.
“We wash our injuries with water. If they (penitents) ask for their injuries to be treated, we will also provide it to them,” Pablo said.
A group of men carrying wooden paddles covered with duct tapes assist the penitents. They look after them and sometimes give them water to drink. But these men also have harsher roles to undertake.
They are the ones who whip penitents’ bottom with the paddles they carry which is around 2 inches thick and 4 inches wide.
Every time the devotees stop and lie face down on the ground in front of chapels to pray, two to three lashes of paddles land on their buttocks.
With every lash these men land on them, the penitents grunt in pain. Noticeable traces of blood are also seen on the paddle.
Pablo said more men will participate in the self-flagellation tomorrow, Good Friday.