Infanta Penitents

Quezon, Philippines

Self flagellation practices were adopted by Filipinos during their Spanish colonization almost 500 years ago. Flagellants are practitioners of an extreme form of mortification of their own flesh by whipping it with various instruments. Today, you can still see some Christians practicing flagellation in the Philippines as a form of devout worship and personal sacrifice, sometimes in addition to self-crucifixion. In the Philippine province of Quezon there are still a number of men who wear elaborate costumes while preforming their act of self flagellation. This unique costume with its colorful headdress called the “tukarol” and its skirt called the “saya” is the last of it’s kind in the Philippine Islands. The ritual is preformed during the early hours of Good Friday with preparations taking place at the start of Holy Week.

A penitent from Infanta, Quezon.
Flagellant Louie Avellaneda preparing his headdresses in the forest.
Collecting materials from the forest to be used for the elaborate headdresses.
Louie rides a tricycle searching for flowers and other material to complete his headdress.
Preparing a headdress for Good Friday sacrifice.
Preparing flowers to be placed on the headdresses.
The top piece of a headdress.
Penitents in the forest trying on their headdresses.
Louie at his home preparing for Good Friday's sacrifice.
Starting the walk from the flagellants barangay into the town of Infanta. In town, the flagellants will visit the Catholic church and then return to their barangay.
Before wearing the headdress and saya many flagellants will start flogging their backs. This begins at 2:00am on Good Friday.
Early morning the flagellants make their way into town.
Once the flagellants are in the town of Infanta they continue their sacrifice until the sun comes up.
People gather on the streets to watch the penitents perform their sacrifice once the sun comes up.
Cutting the penitents back with a razor. / Louie is in pain from a mixture of bad water and the flogging of his back.
Communal buckets are used to wash the flogs.
Drinking lambanog during the ritual helps to ease the pain.
Bloody back.
Cleaning the wounds is often the most painful part of the sacrifice. The cuts must be squeezed to get all the infection out.
A penitent removing his saya in a field after the ritual is over.
Cleaning the wounds.

Tagged: asia, documentary, flagellants, Good Friday, holy week, luzon, philippines, photography, photojournalist, pictures, ritual,
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011

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