SAN PEDRO CUTUD, Philippines -- At least 13 Filipinos, including two women, were nailed to crosses today in re-enactments of Jesus' death that have become a fixture of Easter week celebrations in Asia's largest Catholic nation.
Thousands of tourists flocked to a dusty hill outside San Pedro Cutud, a farming village north of Manila, where 10 of the ''crucifixions'' occurred.
''I am doing this for street children,'' said Ding Panganiban, who was nailed to a cross decorated with photos of children.
Panganiban, a photographer who has been working with homeless children, said he carried his cross from Manila to San Pedro Cutud, 45 miles away.
Most stayed on the crosses under the blazing sun for roughly 10 minutes.
The ritual has continued for more than 40 years, and the faithful believe it is a form of penance that helps prayers get answered. No serious injuries have been reported in the re-enactments.
Three people, including an 18-year-old woman, were also nailed to crosses in Kapitangan in neighboring Bulacan province.
The Catholic Church officially frowns on the crucifixion as well as another flagellation ritual, but does not attempt to stop them.
Throughout the Philippines, tens of thousands of bloody penitents, including children, observed Good Friday by walking barefoot through dusty village streets beating their bare backs with ropes and pieces of wood, splashing spectators with blood.
To ensure that the ritual is sufficiently bloody, attendants use pieces of broken glass to periodically open new cuts on the penitents' backs.
''It bothers me to see children flagellating themselves,'' said Coral O'Reilly, a tourist from Canada. ''I just don't think it's true to the religion.''
Basilio Santos, 80, lashed the scars on his back for the 54th year. He began the annual practice, he said, to save a sick child, who grew healthy and is now 58.
Filipinos traditionally observe Lent with fasting and acts of repentance. In Manila, many battled traffic and crowded sanctuaries late Thursday in a quest to visit 14 churches representing the 14 stations of the cross.
In Zamboanga in the southern Philippines, churches were less crowded than usual because of fears of possible bomb attacks. Scores of people have been killed by recent explosions blamed on Muslim rebels.
Police and soldiers guarded many churches and streets.
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