angeles_flagellants_3

I was splattered with blood in Angeles City

A flagellant passes infront of a blood splattered wall in Angeles City

It was all over me, specks of red on my camera and camera bag, shorts, legs, arms and shoes as well as face. I was splattered with blood following the flagellants at Lourdes Northwest, Angeles City. Pampanga.

Lying prostrate infront of a chapel where a Pabasa is being sung. CLICK TO ENLARGE

semanasanta_logo.jpg This is part of my Semana Santa series where I feature rituals and traditions observed in certain places during this solemn week in the Catholic calendar. Click on the image at the right to check the rest of the articles.

It’s not for the faint of heart but the sight of blood on the backs of these men, on their flogs called panghampas, their stained clothes, walls, on other people, heck, even a bright light blue wall wasn’t spared, can be a sight!

Despite having got into close call before with flagellants in Infanta, I was still feeling icky. Maybe because of the sheer numbers coming and going from time to time. But that was just the start. After sometime, it all became normal.

Filing in line, flagellants troop to a chapel in Lourdes Northwest, Angeles City

A sharp blade cuts the skin. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Self flagellation has been a tradition of many Filipinos, a practice introduced by the Spanish friars in the late 16th century. Curiously, it has only been limited in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila. During prewar Negros, the hacienderos, sugar barons practiced it discreetly, usually in their rooms.

Contrary to popular notions, flagellation is not for the forgiveness or atonement of sins. Flagellants do it as a panata, vow, to ask God for favors like the healing of a sick relative or family member, or as a goodwill in exchange for a brighter future for the family and children. Most of these men don’t even go on Sunday masses. Depending on the panata, it can be a few to several years.

In Angeles City, flagellants, together with some carrying heavy wooden crosses, are found along the streets in groups but most congregate at Lourdes Northwest where I was brought by Wyatt and met Tintin and Archie there. All three were my hosts while in this city. And it was really a sight! Tourists and the curious were gawking, filling the side of streets and taking photos of the flagellants, mostly with their heads covered. Vendors are also around and thank god for them, I quenched my thirst with melon juice and two plastic cups of dirty ice cream.

End of the line infront of the chapel where they pray

Pabasa is sung at the chapel. CLICK TO ENLARGE

It was just hot and humid and the sun beating down on me. At one point, the stench of blood heavily hung in the air that people with weaker stomachs might puke. I was even thinking if I was at an abattoir because of the putrid smell. But I guess, its part of the experience.

I’ve been following the flagellants for a few blocks and not minding when I get splattered again. Sometimes, the panghampas even hit both of my arms but I just continue walking and looking for interesting visuals.

At one point along the road, where the wailing cries, err, songs of the Pabasa were heard via loudspeakers, the flagellants turned left and stopped infront of the chapel. Lying prostrate, and some kneeling, perhaps praying. After some time, they stood up, ended their ritual and retraced their steps to wash.

My gratitude to Mayor Ed Pamintuan and First Lady Herminia de Guzman-Pamintuan of Angeles City, Archie Reyes, Angeles City Information Officer as well as foodies and food bloggers Christine Nunag and Wyatt Belmonte for inviting, accommodating and touring me around their city and the province of Pampanga.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

5 Comments

  1. erick
    April 25, 2011 @ 14:40

    nice to see you there. great shot as always.

    first time to shoot an event like this, na shock ako dahil sa mga talsik din ng dugo.

  2. estan
    April 25, 2011 @ 21:23

    yup and thanx pre. 🙂

  3. christine
    April 25, 2011 @ 21:47

    Thanks again Estan for covering our Holy Week celebrations in Angeles City!

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    April 26, 2011 @ 10:31

    […] lights, in Fields Avenue, that is, and it was also the place where there is a sizable population of flagellants in this part of the country. Contrasts, and parallels that make this place […]

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    April 26, 2011 @ 11:08

    […] was in Angeles City for Holy Week and was able to come close to the flagellants in this part of the country. Blood splattered, it didn’t stop me from taking images until the […]

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