PAMPANGA, Philippines – Before high noon under the scorching summer heat, locals and tourists gather at the main streets of San Fernando on Good Friday, April 14.
The province is a popular destination during the Lenten Season as thousands of devotees participate in traditions like the passion play, flagellation, and the crucifixion.
But what makes San Fernando a little bit more unique than other places is its local tradition called "Tira Bakal."
This is similar to the usual "senakulo", but instead of just reenacting the passion of Christ to tell a story, the chosen participant playing the role of Jesus is beaten without hesitation until he drops.
He then rises from the ground, but is pulled by locals dressed as Roman soldiers to get beaten again.
This process is repeated until he gets to walk around the Cathedral and reach the location where he first started – the main objective of the march.
The Roman soldiers use metal rods, wooden blocks, or rubber whips to make sure the chosen Jesus falls down, hence the name "Tira Bakal."
The aim is to relive the real pain Jesus Christ went through as part of the participant's devotion and penance.
People fill the sidewalks to watch, enduring the blazing heat just to witness this practice.
Facilitators are very strict. The audience members are prohibited from going near the procession for their own safety.
Whenever the devotee playing Jesus is too tired and weak to continue the journey, the same facilitators lift him up, offer a prayer, and encourage him to lift his cross.
Here are some of the images of "Tira Bakal":