I hate being the bearer of bad news, but sometimes it is necessary. Easter is quickly approaching, and unfortunately, this year, I must tell you that you, assuming you are not Filipino, will not be allowed to be crucified this year in the Philippines.
Yes, you did read that right. What I am talking about is the Cutud, an annual event held every Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday) in San Pedro, near the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, on the island of Luzon. The Cutud is an event where people, those who are very devoted and religious can re-enact the final acts of Jesus Christ. Yes, the people who choose to participate can actually be crucified – nailed to a cross and put on public display. There are other events during the Cutud too, but the public crucifixion is certainly the highlight of the Cutud.
In the past, foreigners were allowed to participate in the event. I mean, why not? If they are devoted to their religion to the point of wishing to be crucified, why not allow them? It is certainly something I would never do, and in my mind it is somewhat crazy, but we all have different beliefs. I see no reason why race or citizenship should play a role in deciding if a person should be allowed to express his faith.
However, this year, the local officials of San Pedro have banned foreigners from the act of crucifixion. Why? According to City Councilor Jimmy Lazatin, quoted in the GMA News Website, last year a foreigner “made fun of the ritual.” On another website, I read that Councilor Lazatin said that a foreigner laughed at the spectacle. Why should the acts of a single foreigner ban all other foreigners from expressing their religious faith? I mean, if it was a foreign man who laughed, why not ban all men? It would seem to make as much sense to me.
In fact, if you think about it, I am pretty certain that Jesus Christ was not Filipino, so why should this ritual be limited to Filipinos? If Jesus Christ were to attend the Cutud, would he be banned? If so, would it be the right thing to do?
As I said earlier in this article, I personally would never have any interest in being crucified. I can express my faith in other ways. I do not think that God would expect or even want us to do something so extreme to express our faith. However, as a lover of freedom and liberty, I strongly defend the right of the people who feel a need to do this to do so. For myself, in fact, I would not even have an interest in visiting the site or witnessing this event.
But, the question still remains in my mind, why ban foreigners?