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Magdarame : Imitations of Christ, Philippines

Penetencia or magdarame in kapampangan language is very popular holyweek paractice in the Philipp...


Penetencia or magdarame in kapampangan language is very popular holyweek paractice in the Philippines. To prepare himself, the magdarame whips his back until it swells. Then, it is incised with a panabad, a paddle with shards of broken glass or directly with a razor. To draw blood, he flogs himself with burilyos, short bamboo strips tied to a cloth. This type of magdarame—mamalaspas—then makes the rounds of visitas, with face covered with a black hood (capariza) and crowned with twisted branches or leaves.

Behind all these rituals is a personal vow or panata. The magdarame often endures the painful sacrifice in exchange for help for a pressing problem like finding a cure for an ailing relative or even as mundane as passing the board exams. Bloody, gory and morbid as it may seem, the practice of darame continue to persist in Pampanga, a penitent’s direct response to Jesus’ challenge to come and take His Cross, lending support to the claim—no pain, no gain.




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