In Maleldo rites: No crucifixion for foreigners

City of San Fernando, Philippines -- Officials of the 2015 Maleldo (Holy Week) committee announced on Monday that they are banning foreigners from joining the annual crucifixion rites on Good Friday in Barangay San Pedro Cutud, here.

In a press conference at the city hall, committee chairman City Councilor Harvey Quiwa said the ban "will prevent the Lenten rites from becoming a circus."

"This is also to ensure law and order and safety of the residents and the thousands of visitors," added Quiwa.

It was reported that a Dutch national expressed his intention be nailed on the cross in 2014 but backed out just before the Holy Week re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s passion and death. It caused a stir and disappointment to San Pedro Cutud officials.

Quiwa said that at least 60,000 foreign and local tourists are expected to witness the nailing on the cross of at least seven people on Friday afternoon.

Among them, 76-year-old Bob Velez of Barangay Sto. Niño, here will be nailed for the 36th straight year on April 3. He and Ruben Enaje, 54, of Barangay San Pedro Cutud, attended the press conference.

Enaje will be nailed for the 29th straight time during Good Friday.

Enaje said there will be at least seven local residents who will be nailed on Friday, including him and Velez. He added that one penitent each from Laguna, Cavite and Polilio Island in Quezon province may also join them in being nailed on the cross.

“They will join if they arrive on Friday,” said Enaje.

Mayor Edwin Santiago said the city government is allotting some P300,000 to ensure the safety and success of the annual Lenten rites.

“There will be no income for the city but there will be enormous benefits for the small and big businesses not just in San Fernando but in other cities and towns in Pampanga,” said Santiago, who joined Quiwa and Vice- Mayor Jimmy Lazatin in the press conference.

Santiago said that hotels in nearby Angeles City will also benefit from the Holy Week rites at Pampanga’s capital city. He added that most foreigners who watch the annual crucifixion stay in Angeles City.

The Via Crucis Pasion was written by Ricardo Navarro in 1955. It is used at the Lenten rites in San Pedro Cutud since 1955.

It was in 1962 when public crucifixions were done in San Pedro Cutud, about 70 kilometers North of Manila. Then aspiring faith healer Artemio Anoza was the first to be nailed on the cross and the first to act as Jesus Christ.