Friday, March 21, 2008

Pampanga: Crucifixion rites held in San Pedro Cutud every Good Friday

Just like last year, I found myself in San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando, Pampanga today to witness the Via Crucis, a Kapampangan passion play which has been the heart of the annual crucifixions here in the city, which is more popularly know as the San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites.

As the crucifixions are highlighted, many fail to recognize that they are part of an old cultural tradition of the barangay, a passion play written in the vernacular, which has been passed on from generation to generation. In fact, it's already in the third generation of the Navarro clan.

I was pleasantly surprised that vehicles are now allowed to enter San Pedro Cutud. And it was even more pleasant when I saw that there was ample parking at the site. In previous years, it was a long 2 kilometer walk from the gate of the barangay under the heat of the scorching summer sun.

While waiting for the Via Crucis to arrive, flagellants would climb the hill and pay homage at the foot of the cross ending their annual Lenten sacrifice or panata. Most of the time, silence envelopes the crowd as the bloodied penitents make their way up, giving them time to be "alone" with God. But while most encounters are solemn, there are some under the influence of alcohol (it is said that they down a bottle of beer to speed up the circulation of blood), and a rare few who make a scene up the hill thus eliciting laughter from the crowd to the dismay of local officials who have them escorted down immediately.

This year, the Via Crucis started late. The play arrived close to 2 p.m. And by that time, we had been under the sun for over three hours! It was good though that they were able to keep non-cast members off the hill this time around. The scores of barangay tanod and alalay (assistants) who usually joined the cast up the hill were asked to get down. While some of the stubborn foreign media who would usually force their way up, though they were able to slip into the restricted area, were kept at the middle level, away from the top of the hill.

Before I left, I was told that there were fourteen penitents who were going to be nailed to the cross this year, including two women. But a news article reported nineteen! Anyway, I left at about 3 p.m. for my annual visit to relatives. Since Good Friday is one of those events when San Fernando old families gather (usually to prepare their carroza for the elegant Good Friday procession in the evening), kitchens are busy preparing the best Lenten dishes. We wouldn't want to miss that!

Related entries
Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches

Related article
Holy Week reflections on culture
This is a must read for tourists who visit areas with penitents. It's simple conduct we must remember. As Robbie Tantingco writes, "What our penitents do is a very personal and sacred act, and we should protect them from media who sensationalize, and tourists who trivialize, this act... Tourists should be treated as, well, tourists, to be accorded the usual courtesy and hospitality and given the necessary amenities. But tourists should not be allowed to distract or interact with the penitents; they should merely watch and observe, with as much distance from, and reverence for, the penitents as possible."


  1. Anonymous22.3.08

    Mr. Henares, iiyak ka sa naganap na banggaan ng mga palabas na tao, papasok na tao at papasok na mga sasakyan noong 3:00 PM. Parang may stampede. Diyos ko po, sana ayusin ng gobyerno ang mga ganyan next year. Ang init pa, may hinimatay pa.

  2. With the multitude of people leaving at the same time, I wouldn't be surprised it looked like a stampede. Which is why we decided to wait a bit longer under the sun just so that we could avoid the crowd. When we left at 3:30 p.m., we didn't have much of a problem. But I'm sure the local government will improve that next year.

  3. Anonymous23.3.08

    Ivan, hello, musta na? I was surprised to have found you on a search for some material on Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.

    Grabe, sarap yata ng buhay mo ha... hehehe. Happy Easter, Ivan.

    Philip S. Javier III

  4. Hi Sir! How are you doing? Do you still teach at the Ateneo?

  5. Hi Ivan!! My husband's family is from Bacolor (that makes me Capampangan by association...part Capampangan by blood) and we were there for the Good Friday festivities. We were planning to make the trek to Cutud but the heat was just too much. I heard that some of the foreign media were the ones rushed to the Medic's booth because of heat exhaustion. Hope to make it next year.

  6. Yup, there was a Chinese media guy who fainted. But it was because they covered the Via Crucis from the entrance of Cutud all the way to the crucifixion site.

  7. Anonymous24.3.08

    Aliwa talaga ing maleldo pampanga...

  8. Wapin ne? The best of both worlds, the clash of the classes!

  9. God has already paid the penalty for our sins and it will not be repeated any more by anyone but what was done by Christ was complete and perfect.What you did is foolishness unto God.What you need is accept Jesus as your personal savior and confess your sins to Him and you will be forgiven. God bless you all.

  10. Anonymous29.3.10

    nice pics you have there sir!ask ko lang po sana kung pano makapunta po dyan s me cutud?punta po sana kami ng mga kaibigan ko ngaung good friday.pakituro po kung pano ang daan ppunta dyan.magbubus po kami galing d2 po sa manila.ano pong oras ang magandang byahe po.samalat.sana makarating po kami.

  11. Take any bus to Olongapo or Zambales and get off at San Fernando. From San Fernando, ask around how to get to Cutud. Public transportation is available all over.


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