MANILA―Fifty-seven-year-old Ruben Enaje is ready to be nailed to the cross on Good Friday for the 32nd time in a row since 1986, and to fulfill his promise to God after he survived a near-fatal fall from a three-story building in 1985.
Enaje says he is ready for the Good Friday ritual “as my expression of self-sacrifice to thank our Lord Jesus Christ for saving my life.”
Enaje, a painter, says he was painting a sign on the third floor of the building when he fell.
“I slipped from the bamboo platform I was standing on and while I was falling, I uttered the words My God and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground but 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.
“I owe my life to Jesus, and that’s why every Good Friday I have to undergo the crucifixion ritual.”
Enaje says it was only a year after the accident that “it entered my mind that I wanted to be nailed to the cross as my sacrifice every Good Friday. That was the beginning of my crucifixion.
“In fact, during the first year of my being nailed to the cross I did not tell my wife and children what I was about to do. They cried when they saw me all bloodied,” Enaje said.
“I explained to them and after that, they understood.”
The crucifixion will be held in Burol, a man-made elevated place in San Pedro Cutud village some three kilometers away from San Fernando City.
Enaje says everything is ready: The wooden cross he will carry, the four nails and the crown of thorns made of steel that will be used by a “centurion” during his crucifixion and the “passion play” that will transpire during the ritual.
“The wooden cross I will carry measures 16 feet long and weighs 37 kilos, and I will walk 1.7 kilometers up to Burol.”
Enaje says four other penitents will also be nailed to the cross on Good Friday. And as they carry their cross the centurions, in full regalia, will flog them on the way to “Calvary.”
Enaje recalls that, in one instance, he was kicked and “I tumbled down the road. The pain was excruciating but I bore it.”
He says the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, the second biggest volcanic eruption in the world in the 20th century, did not deter him from continuing with his devotion.
Still, the Catholic Church has always been discouraging the faithful from having themselves nailed to the cross on Good Friday. The Department of Health does the same each year.
Nevertheless, some penitents still go about the ritual that attracts Filipinos and foreigners. And devotees are expected to line up along the route to give bottled water to Enaje and the other penitents. With PNA