For three years in a row, Filipino penitent Ruben Enaje has been forced to cancel anew his Good Friday vow to be nailed on the cross as the deadly Corona Virus-19 (COVID-19) continues to be a health hazard.
“I was informed by local government officials in San Fernando, Pampanga to cancel again this year my ‘crucifixion’ this year because COVID is still around,” Enaje told this writer in a phone interview Tuesday.
Enaje’s vow to be nailed on the cross every Good Friday was his way to thank to God for saving his life following a near-fatal fall unscathed from a three-storey building in 1985.
“I was ready to be crucified on the cross this Good Friday when he was told to cancel again,” he said.
Enaje said “I am looking forward next year to be nailed on the cross for th last time when I will be 61 years old.”
Enajje had been nailed on the cross for 33 time… Had there been no interruption, Enaje would have been nailed on the cross for 37th times.
It may be recalled that it was in 1985 when Enaje started his self-sacrifice to be nailed on the cross every Good Friday as his promise to the Lord after he survived a fall from a three-storey building without a scratch.
He said he slipped from the bamboo he was standing while painting a building, and “while I was falling I uttered the words ‘Dios ko!’ (‘My God!’), and the next I time 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 moment I found out I was okay,” he recalled that unforgettable incident of his life.
“The near-fatal accident happened while I was painting a signage on the building,” Enaje added.
“I owe my life to Jesus that’s why every Good Friday I have to undergo the crucifixion ritual,” he said.
Enaje related that it was only a year after the accident or in 1986 that “it entered my mind that I wanted to be nailed on the cross as myself sacrifice every Good Friday. That was the beginning of my crucifixion.”
“In fact, the first year of my being nailed on the cross, 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,” Enaje, now 58, recalled said.
“I explained to them and after that they understood,” he said.
The site of the crucifixion is in Burol, a man-made elevated place in Barangay San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga some three kilometres from the city proper.
Every Good Friday four nails and the crown of thorns made of steel are being used by a “centurion” during his crucifixion.
Enaje carries a wooden cross measuring 16 feet long and weighs 37 kilos, and walks 1.7 kilometres up to the crucifixion site where thousands of tourists watched the unfolding event.
While carrying the cross, “centurions” in full regalia, whip Enaje and other penitents along the way to “Calvary.”
Enaje recalled that during one of his crucifixions, he was kicked and “I tumbled down the road. The pain was excruciating, but I bear it out.”
He also recalled that in 1991 when Mount Pinatubo in Pampanga erupted, the second biggest volcanic eruption in the world in the 20th century that spewed tons of ashes that circled around the globe, he was unfazed, and continued his annual ritual of being nailed on the cross.
Enaje is the longest Filipino penitent being nailed on the cross every Good Friday for over three decades now and counting as long as his health allows.