After 33 consecutive years of being nailed to the cross every Good Friday to thank God for saving his life following a near-fatal fall from a three-storey building in 1985, penitent Ruben Enaje had to skip his “crucifixion” this year in the face of a raging novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Sorry, I cannot fulfill my vow to be nailed to the cross this year because of the deadly virus,” Enaje said in a phone interview on Good Friday.
Enaje holds the record of having the most number of crucifixion rituals every Good Friday.
He said he hopes to continue the ritual next year together with other penitents.
It was in 1986 when Enaje started his self-sacrifice as his promise to the Lord after he survived a fall from a three-storey building without a scratch in 1985.
He recalled that he slipped from the bamboo slat he was standing on while doing a paint job.
“While I was falling I uttered the words ‘Dios ko!’ (‘My God!’), and the next thing I knew I was on the ground, but fully conscious!”
“It was a miracle I survived the fall without a bone broken. In fact, when I was on the ground, I did not stand up immediately thinking I broke my legs and body, but after a few moments I found out I was okay,” he said.
“I owe my life to Jesus that’s why every Good Friday I have to undergo the crucifixion ritual,” Enaje added.
Enaje, now 58, said he did not inform his family when he started his crucifixion ritual a year after his accident.
"I did not tell my wife and children what I was about to do. They cried when they saw me all bloodied, my head, hands and feet,” he said.
The site of the crucifixion is in Burol, a man-made elevated place in Barangay San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga some three kilometers away from the city proper.
Every Good Friday, four nails and a crown of thorns made of steel are used by a “centurion” for Enaje's crucifixion.
Enaje would carry a wooden cross measuring 16 feet long and weighing 37 kilos. He would walk 1.7 kilometers up to the crucifixion site where thousands of tourists would watch the unfolding event.
Centurions in full regalia would whip Enaje and other penitents along the way to crucifixion site.