Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Penitensya, A Lenten Practice

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For more photos of the penitensya, pls. visit my Facebook album by clicking, Penitensya.

During the Lenten Season, the penitensya (penitence) is a practice that is widely known among Filipinos. Different places in the Philippines showcase different form of penitensya. From the most common whipping to the more painful one, the crucifixion. Mostly, the male specie is the one engaged in such practice. I really don't know the real reason behind this practice, but my grandma used to tell me that these are the sinful people asking for forgiveness from Christ. These men are what we call as flagellants.

During the Moriones Festival, I went to Gasan to experience the grand Lenten procession. The 45-min jeep ride was really tiring. I arrived around 3pm and since I haven't eaten lunch yet, I went to a known food establishment, Barbarosa Pub and Restaurant (read my blog about Barbarosa by clicking this link, ). After eating Lunch, I took time strolling around Gasan for some sights. When I was on my way to the St. Joesph Church, I saw a group of male with bloody flesh. They were holding a group of sticks which they whip continuously on different parts of their body. At first, I thought that the bleeding was caused by the whipping, but it wasn't. They wound themselves using blade. It was a horrifying encounter but I managed to take some photos.

Though there are no female flagellants, in Gasan, women who participate in the practice of the penitensya are also called flagellants. While the male flagellants showcase this practice in a morbid manner, the female flagellants showcase it differently. The females wear black dresses, with big headdresses made of leaves over their heads, and are barefooted. The leaves used in their headdresses are not ordinary leaves. I have learned that those have thorny leaves and stems. These females flagellants are the escorts of the Santo Entierro or the dead Christ.

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