TOKYO-2016 Editorial / Photo Essay

Penitence of Sins

  • Prize
    Bronze in Editorial/Photo Essay
  • Photographer
    George Cabig

Holy Week celebration in the Philippines devotees are known to subject themselves to punishment such as crucifixion and flagellation as penitence for sins during Lenten Season. The annual religious ritual involves performance of self-flagellation acts like carrying heavy wooden crosses, whipping their backs until they bleed and re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Although the practice is reportedly discouraged by Catholic bishops, many Filipinos believe that such acts will help them to cleanse their sins, cure their illness and even grant their wishes. The flagellants can be seen crawling on the streets from morning ‘til afternoon and beaten by sticks. They’re usually barebacked, wearing only denim pants with their faces covered with black handkerchiefs or head cloths and sometimes crowned with leaves and thorns. In front of the altar, the penitents will lay on the ground face down and they get flagged hard with a stick tied with strips of rubber from wheels just to draw blood. After their ordeal, they traditionally will go to the nearest river and wash off the blood, believing that their sins are being washed away too.