It was the day Our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for the redemption of our sins. It was also the day we became children of God. A wonderful mystery of unfathomable greatness of the Love of God for us. But of course, He is Love Himself. And we even got a bonus, because now we have the Mother of God as our Mother too: Mary, providing us with her omnipotent supplication.
But in the context of the Filipino culture, Good Friday was also the day of senakulo, penitensiya, prusisyon, and many more. Senakulo is the traditional reenactment of the Passion of Christ. It actually starts at Maundy Thursday, but many more events unfold during Good Friday. I watched a senakulo at Puerto Rivas. Their costume weren’t that great, but their acting was just too much especially during the carrying of the cross. The man who was acting as Jesus Christ was being dragged, beaten full-force, and thrown with rocks. That was too harsh, I think.
On the other hand, penitensya is scourging of the back with bamboo whips until it bled. Men usually join the penitensya for penance, personal intentions and for intention for others, etc. They are usually half-naked, with handkerchiefs on their faces so their visages will not be known. As I watched the line of men doing penitensiya, a mischievous man approached us near the gate where we were watching and showed his bloody-red back on us as he continually whipped himself. We frantically backed off! My mother told me that some men who join the penitensiya intoxicate themselves.
There were also people who carried a cross at their backs, or a big piece of wood tied at their arms and shoulders, with some people assisting them as they rest and stop. I heard some people scream when a man was near exhaustion.
I also attended the second mass of the Paschal Triduum, where the Salutation of the Cross was held in the chapel of the monastery of poor Claire nuns. I was so happy to see three holy relics of saints displayed there, as that chapel is far from the center of the city. The relics were from St. Claire of Assisi, St. Francis of Assisi, and Blessed John Paul II. Then I remembered how my mother named me after St. Claire. So I took this blessed opportunity to ask for their intercessions and to venerate their holy presence.
From left to right: holy relics of Blessed John Pail II, St. Clair of Assisi and St. Francis of Assisi.