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Page 16 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
ASIA / PACIFIC
Filipino nailed to cross prays
for Belgium, Philippines
April 4, 2016
Zuckerberg’s run in Beijing’s
toxic air stirs Chinese public
By Didi Tang
The Associated Press
By Rene Casibang
The Associated Press
AN PEDRO CUTUD, The
Philippines — A Filipino
devotee was nailed to a cross
for the 30th time in an annual Good
Friday ritual, which he dedicated to
peace in Belgium and other countries
targeted by Islamic extremists.
Ruben Enaje and 14 other men,
some screaming in pain, were nailed
to wooden crosses by actors dressed
as Roman centurions in San Pedro
Cutud and two other rice farming
villages in Pampanga province north
of Manila, according to organizers.
Thousands of foreign and local
tourists snapped pictures of the
devotees, who re-enacted Jesus
Christ’s suffering and death in
scorching heat. Other devotees
flogged their own bloodied backs with
whips while walking barefoot around
the dusty villages.
The gory spectacle reflects the
Philippines’ unique brand of Catholi-
cism, which merges church traditions
with folk superstitions. Many of the
undergo the ritual to atone for sins,
pray for the sick or for a better life,
and to give thanks for what they
believe were god-given miracles.
Enaje, a 55-year-old sign painter,
began the annual ordeal after he fell
from a three-story building in 1985
and survived nearly unscathed.
Asked what he was praying for this
year, Enaje said he was saddened by
the recent bombings at the Brussels
airport and subway station and other
THE PENITENT PAINTER. Filipino penitents are nailed to wooden crosses during a re-
enactment during Good Friday rituals at Cutud, in Pampanga province, the Philippines. The Filipino
devotees had themselves nailed to crosses to remember Jesus Christ’s suffering and death. (AP
Photo/Linus Escandor II)
attacks in the Middle East that hurt attraction in San Pedro Cutud
village, about 45 miles north of
“What are they fighting for?” Enaje Manila.
asked, referring to Islamic State
After 30 years, Enaje said he has
group militants who have claimed thought of ending his involvement in
responsibility for the Brussels the crucifixions in the next few years,
attacks. “Even the innocent are not although he remains physically fit to
spared. They want to lord over the endure the experience, which has
world, but that can’t be allowed to deepened his faith.
The intensity of the pain, he said,
He expressed concern over reports has never changed in each of the
that Islamic State extremists may years that the four-inch stainless
have already influenced Muslim mili- steel nails were hammered through
tants in the southern Philippines.
the same spots in his palms and feet.
The Lenten rituals are frowned When the cross is hoisted up, the
upon by church leaders in the Philip- movement adds to the suffering, he
pines, Asia’s largest Roman Catholic said.
nation, especially if the religious
“The only thing in my mind is that
spectacle is used to boost tourism. god went through worse,” Enaje said.
The event, however, has persisted
Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila,
the Philippines contributed to this report.
and has become an awaited tourist
EIJING — A photo of Facebook founder Mark
Zuckerberg jogging in downtown Beijing’s
notorious smog prompted a torrent of amusing
comments and some mockery on Chinese social media.
Zuckerberg is a favorite personality among the Chinese
public, despite Facebook being banned in the country
alongside other overseas social-media platforms. He’s also
become somewhat notorious for persistent yet so far futile
efforts to woo leaders enforcing China’s strict online
The young tech tycoon was in Beijing to attend an
economic forum, where some of the world’s business and
finance leaders rub shoulders with senior Chinese
Zuckerberg posted the photo to his Facebook page of
him and five others running through Tiananmen Square
with the famous gate to the Forbidden City’s imperial
palace in the background. None wore the air-filtering face
masks that are ubiquitous in Beijing and other Chinese
At the time the photo was taken, Beijing’s air pollution
index was well into the hazardous zone at about 15 times
the level considered safe by the World Health
Organization. Health experts urge people to avoid any
outdoor activities on such heavily polluted days.
Chinese residents wondered aloud whether Zucker-
berg’s jog was yet another gesture aimed at pleasing the
Chinese authorities, who claim they are gradually
winning the battle against air pollution.
Previous efforts include Zuckerberg’s telling China’s
top internet official on a visit to Facebook’s California
headquarters in 2014 that he was engrossed in Chinese
President Xi Jinping’s collected speeches. The same year
he famously engaged his audience in halting Chinese at a
forum at prestigious Tsinghua University while avoiding
mention of the government ban on Facebook.
“Kissing up?” commented Tom Wang, a Chinese envi-
ronmentalist, who reposted Zuckerberg’s running photo
and added a graphic of Beijing’s air quality readings from
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