Filipino Christians take part in the annual re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in a pageant that includes a demonstration of faith by some of being nailed to a cross, a practice the Catholic Church does not condone.

Ruben Enaje grimaces after getting nailed to a cross for the 32nd year in a row during a re-enactment of Jesus Christ's sufferings as part of Good Friday rituals in the village of San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga province, northern Philippines March 30, 2018.
Ruben Enaje grimaces after getting nailed to a cross for the 32nd year in a row during a re-enactment of Jesus Christ's sufferings as part of Good Friday rituals in the village of San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga province, northern Philippines March 30, 2018. (AP)

Filipino Christians marked Good Friday with an annual display of religious fervour in which some people whip their backs raw and are nailed to crosses.

Though frowned upon by the church, the re-enactments of Christ's final moments draw thousands of believers and tourists in a carnival-like atmosphere that is big business for locals in the Philippines, a staunchly Catholic country in largely non-Christian Asia.

Penitents performing self-flagellation to atone for their sins lie on the ground to pray inside a Catholic church during Maundy Thursday Lenten rites in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila, Philippines March 29, 2018.
Penitents performing self-flagellation to atone for their sins lie on the ground to pray inside a Catholic church during Maundy Thursday Lenten rites in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila, Philippines March 29, 2018. (Reuters)

In towns located north of Manila at least three people had eight-centimetre (three-inch) spikes driven through their palms and feet in hot, dry fields. More devotees were expected to take part later in the day.

A devotee takes part during a procession of religious images during Holy Week celebrations in Pola, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines March 28, 2018.
A devotee takes part during a procession of religious images during Holy Week celebrations in Pola, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines March 28, 2018. (Reuters)

At the same time, bare-chested men, some of whose faces were concealed by hoods, lashed their backs bloody, as selfie-snapping onlookers watched.

A hooded penitent performs self-flagellation to atone for his sins during Good Friday Lenten rites in Cutud town, Pampanga province, north of Manila, Philippines March 30, 2018.
A hooded penitent performs self-flagellation to atone for his sins during Good Friday Lenten rites in Cutud town, Pampanga province, north of Manila, Philippines March 30, 2018. (Reuters)

They left droplets of blood on cars, houses and even bottles of soda displayed on snack vendors' tables that lined the road.

"If one of my family members gets sick, this is what we do," said Norman Lapuot, 25, as he flogged himself with a bamboo-tipped whip. "I do this for my relatives."

Hooded penitents perform self-flagellation to atone for their sins during Good Friday Lenten rites in Cutud town, Pampanga province, north of Manila, Philippines March 30, 2018.
Hooded penitents perform self-flagellation to atone for their sins during Good Friday Lenten rites in Cutud town, Pampanga province, north of Manila, Philippines March 30, 2018. (Reuters)

Lapuot, who said it was his fourth time taking part in the ceremony, added that he believed the ritual bloodletting had helped his grandfather recover from a stroke.

A penitent with wooden stakes tied to his arms, prays to atone for his sins during Maundy Thursdsay Lenten rites in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 29, 2018.
A penitent with wooden stakes tied to his arms, prays to atone for his sins during Maundy Thursdsay Lenten rites in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 29, 2018. (Reuters)

While a majority of the Philippines' 80 million Catholics spend Good Friday at church or with family, participants undergo the re-enactments of Christ's suffering to atone for sins or give thanks for divine intervention.

The mock crucifixions on Good Friday have been going on for decades despite official disapproval from the nation's dominant Catholic Church.

Two men are hung on crosses during a reenactment of Jesus Christ's sufferings as part of Good Friday rituals in the village of San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga province, northern Philippines, March 30, 2018.
Two men are hung on crosses during a reenactment of Jesus Christ's sufferings as part of Good Friday rituals in the village of San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga province, northern Philippines, March 30, 2018. (AP)

"The church never encourages self-flagellation, much less crucifixion," Roy Bellen, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Manila, said.

"All sacrifices being asked from Catholics during Lent and Holy Week should lead to actions that benefit the poor and the needy," he added.

Male penitents lie on a pavement while waiting for their turn to be hit by a plank in Mandaluyong City, Philippines, Thursday, March 29, 2018.
Male penitents lie on a pavement while waiting for their turn to be hit by a plank in Mandaluyong City, Philippines, Thursday, March 29, 2018. (AP)

Food stalls, cab drivers and even souvenir stands get a boost from the event which draws some 35,000 people every year to the area over the course of Good Friday.

Nearly 80 percent of people in the Philippines are Catholic, a legacy of the nation's 300 years of Spanish colonial rule that ended at the turn of the 20th century.

Good Friday is part of Christianity's holiest festival, which culminates with Easter Sunday, when Christian theology holds that Christ rose from the dead.

Source: AFP