The Penitents

Holy Week rituals and traditions in Paete, Laguna province, Philippines, 1992


Religious devotion is passionately displayed in different parts of this predominantly Roman Catholic country, particularly in the provinces where communities go on pilgrimage to as many churches.

Extreme forms of religious practices such as self-flagellation using whips tipped with sharp objects that scar the backs of hooded penitents are some of the rituals that are fulfilled on Easter weekend to look back on the suffering of Jesus Christ.

The barefoot penitents walk through the streets lashing themselves as they take part in the ceremonies to make amends for their sins. The devotees cut their back with a blade before marching barefoot for hours and repeatedly striking their backs with bamboo whips. Other worshippers carry wooden crosses.

Penitensya or penance is the rite to accurately re-enact the suffering of Christ by inflicting wounds and pain into the bodies of the penitents. Others even continue on as far as being crucified.
Religious devotion is intensely presented in different parts of the Philippines, particularly in rural regions where communities go on pilgrimage to as many churches and devotees commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Photography by Alan Dejecacion

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