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Pinoy nailed to cross prays for Belgium, ME

Associated Press

SAN PEDRO CUTUD – A Filipino devotee was nailed to a cross for the 30th time in an annual Good Friday ritual, which he dedicated to peace in Belgium and other countries targeted by Islamic extremists.

Ruben Enaje and 14 other men, some screaming in pain, were nailed to wooden crosses by actors dressed as Roman centurions in San Pedro Cutud and two other rice farming villages in Pampanga province north of Manila, according to organizers.

Thousands of foreign and local tourists snapped pictures of the devotees, who re-enacted Jesus Christ’s suffering and death in scorching heat. Other devotees flogged their own bloodied backs with whips while walking barefoot around the dusty villages.

The gory spectacle reflects the Philippines’ unique brand of Catholicism, which merges church traditions with folk superstitions. Many of the mostly impoverished penitents undergo the rituals to atone for sins, pray for the sick or for a better life and to give thanks for what they believe were God-given miracles.

Enaje, a 55-year-old sign painter, began the annual ordeal after he fell from a three-story building in 1985 and survived nearly unscathed.

Asked what he was praying for this year, Enaje said he was saddened by the recent bombings at the Brussels airport and subway station and other attacks in the Middle East that hurt innocent people.

“What are they fighting for?” Enaje asked, referring to Islamic State group militants who have claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks. “Even the innocent are not spared. They want to lord over the world but that can’t be allowed to happen.”      

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