Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Penitence, The Pinoy Way

Holy Week. A time of reflection, a time of penance, a time of commemoration. Here in the Philippines, somehow it becomes quite festive. It is because the penitents take it to the streets. And of course, it attracts spectators.

Being a largely Roman Catholic country, the Philippine culture deeply integrates Catholicism. Since it is Semana Santa, penance is part of the practice. We Filipinos have lots of ways doing penitence. Some make it simple, some make it daunting.

The Hampas Dugo is a common practice of penitence mostly done in a few provinces of Luzon. No one knows when this tradition started, but still it is widespread. In Bulacan, it is common to see the flagellants on the streets during the Holy Week. 

In the past, the penitents will lay on the ground face down and they get flagged hard with a stick tied with strips of rubber from wheels just to draw blood. Nowadays, a razor makes an incision at the back. A clump of sticks are used by the penitents to whip their backs and they go around town for hours. After their ordeal, they traditionally will go to the nearest river and wash off the blood, believing their sins being washed away too.