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Devotees nailed to crosses on Good Friday in Philippines
Several Roman Catholic devotees were nailed to wooden crosses in a gory Good Friday ritual in the Philippines, and others flogged themselves or took part in religious plays to reenact Jesus Christ’s suffering.
Four men and a woman, some wearing crowns of twigs, were escorted by villagers dressed as Roman centurions and nailed to crosses on a dusty hill in San Pedro Cutud village. Similar reenactments played out in nearby farming towns in the northern Philippines.
Thousands, including many tourists, watch the annual spectacle. The Catholic Church frowns upon it, instead calling on the faithful to mark Lent with prayers and acts of charity. “We’re from Poland, so it’s also a Catholic country but there is nothing like that. It’s much more peaceful and quiet,” said visitor Magdalena Tyburcy.
Prior to the reenacted crucifixions, dozens of barefoot penitents beat their bare backs with sharp bamboo sticks and wood. Some had their backs with razors cut to keep them bloody. Sterilized nails are used in the rituals, and after they are lowered from the crosses, the devotees are checked by medical workers to make sure they are no complications from their injuries.
Painter Ruben Enaje, 59, was nailed to the cross for the 33rd time as part of giving thanks after surviving a fall from a building. “Next year, I’m going to be a senior. Our bones are a bit different, you start to get hurt. I’ll just pass down (this tradition) to someone younger than me,” he said. Another regular, Mary Jane Sazon, marked her 16th time on the cross.
“When I do this devotion, my prayers come true. Then I stopped. I started having health problems again, so I joined the crucifixion again. I felt that through my devotion, whatever illness I feel goes away,” said Sazon.
The Philippines is Asia’s largest Catholic nation. Other Lent traditions include street plays with devotees reenacting the Way of the Cross and a marathon chanting of the Pasyon, a Philippine narrative of the suffering of Christ.
For grilled pork skewers that were moist and flavorful, we turned to boneless country-style ribs, which are quick-cooking and tender, yet have enough fat to keep them from drying out.
The flavorful North African-inspired seasonings of garlic, lemon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and cinnamon did double duty, first in a marinade and later in a basting sauce. As a base for the relish, we grilled onions alongside the pork.
We mixed the grilled onions with a zesty combination of olives, capers, balsamic vinegar, and parsley for a bright, potent sauce that perfectly complemented the skewers. You will need six 12 inch metal skewers for this recipe.
GRILLED SPICED PORK SKEWERS WITH ONION AND CAPER RELISH
Start to finish: 2 hours
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 onions, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup capers, rinsed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Whisk 1/4 cup oil, garlic, lemon zest, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in medium bowl. Measure out and reserve 2 tablespoons marinade. Combine remaining marinade and pork in 1 gallon zipper-lock bag and toss to coat. Press out as much air as possible and seal bag. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours, flipping bag every 30 minutes.
Remove pork from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Thread pork tightly onto four 12 inch metal skewers. Thread onion rounds from side to side onto two 12 inch metal skewers and brush with 1 tablespoon oil.
— For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal briquettes (4 1/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
— For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.
Clean and oil cooking grate. Place pork and onion skewers on grill and cook (covered if using gas), turning skewers every 2 minutes and basting pork with reserved marinade, until pork is browned and registers 145 F and onions are slightly charred and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer pork and onions to cutting board as they finish grilling and tent with aluminum foil. Let pork rest while preparing relish.
Coarsely chop onions and combine with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, olives, capers, vinegar, and parsley. Season with pepper to taste. Using tongs, slide pork off skewers onto serving platter. Serve with relish.