6 Apr 2012

Pre-Easter rituals in the Philippines

7:26 am on 6 April 2012

Catholics in the Philippines are whipping and cutting themselves in rituals mark the last week of Lent, before Easter.

Many devotees perform religious penance during the week leading up to Easter Sunday as a form of worship and supplication.

The practice is discouraged by Catholic bishops, but is widely believed by devotees to cleanse sins, cure illness and even grant wishes.

I do this penance out of my free will because I believe that God will help relieve my sickness, said Corazon Cabigting, the only woman in a group of about 50 men carrying wooden crosses on their backs.

Penitents, with their hands tied to the cross, are beaten with sticks and ropes at roadside chapels every 500 metres along the route.

''It has been our tradition for decades and we have to honour it,'' said said organiser Melvin Pangilinan.