Local city officials of San Fernando Pampanga announced that this year’s crucifixion on Good Friday will be a strictly all-Filipino affair.
Malelo Week 2015 Committee co-Chairman and city Councilor Harvey Quiwa that the local council has imposed a ban on crucifixion of foreigners in the villages of San Pedro Cutud, Santa Lucia and San Juan.
The desire to keep this Lenten tradition a solemn affair and concerns about the safety of foreigners were cited as the reasons for the prohibition.
Last year, Danish filmmaker Lasse Spang Olsen joined 11 Filipinos in the annual rites where penitents were nailed to the cross in Cutud in order to seek favor from God, atone for sins, and to give thanks for answered prayers. Olsen was allowed to join the rites after claiming that he had been converted to Roman Catholicism. In 2009, John Michael, an Australian from Melbourne, joined four other Filipinos including a woman, in getting nailed to the cross in a village in Paombong, Bulacan.
With the imposition of the ban on crucifixion of foreigners, Olsen may most likely be the last foreigner who will be allowed to join the local Lenten tradition.
Disrespect for the tradition by foreigners over the years has prompted local officials to issue a prohibition. A British national made a scene in 2008 after agreeing to join the rites then backed out the last minute. In another occasion, a Japanese filmmaker used a recording of his crucifixion as an insert in a pornographic film.
Although discouraged by the local Catholic Church as a form of folk Catholicism, the tradition of penitents getting nailed on the cross which dates back to the 1950s continued to be practiced during Holy Week every year in villages in San Fernando, Pampanga. It has drawn local and foreign tourists that has turned the village of Cutud into a major tourist destination. The spectacle draws more than 10,000 penitents and tourists yearly. Aside from crucifixion, scores of men who perform flagellation also participate in the Lenten tradition as a form of repentance for their sins.