Self flagellation is a Lenten practice observed in a Catholic country like the Philippines. The Flagellation (in Christian context) refers to the flagellation of Jesus Christ, an event in the Passion of Christ before his Crucifixion. Despite the condemnation of the Catholic Church, many still practice this extreme form of self-mortification because of Panata (religious vow).
I already witnessed this kind of act last year in Angeles, Pampanga. Most of us know that Pampanga is very popular with this kind of tradition during Lenten Season but there is one province in Luzon that makes this practice unique.
In the town of Infanta, Quezon, approximately 4-5 hours drive north east of Manila. Practitioner wears an outfit consists of floral headdress called Tukarol, a skirt made of of dried banana leaves called Saya.
My friend who resides in Infanta told me that the self flagellation starts as early as 2 in the morning of Good Friday. We arrived there at around 4am, we were planning to take a nap for a while inside the car parked beside the church but there was a strange noise outside.
The flagellants just passed by our car and they were heading inside the church’s compound. Most of the time, the church was their first stop, they will kneel and pray at the entrance. Another unique act I witnessed that some flagellants entered and exited the church’s compound like they were dancing. Technically, they were galloping.
After that, they continue walking along the streets still hitting their backs while people followed them to snap photos.
On some occasions, they would stop to take the foods and drinks offered by locals.
By 8am, the activity comes to an end as the flagellants wash themselves at sea.