These shots have been ready for a long time but I've been keeping them close to my chest for various reasons. Posting them now, so soon after the Pope's resignation is purely coincidence. I had nothing to do with it.

Last Easter I visited The Philippines to photograph the Easter Processions. It's bloody, very bloody. I assume it's the only time I will ever be able to get onto a crowded bus covered in other people's blood and have no-one call the police. Everything gets spattered; all of the people, the streets, the cars, and the street food (if it's not covered up quick enough). My camera bag still has dried spots of blood on it.

From dawn until night, groups of (mainly) men walk barefoot through the streets, some of them carrying crosses, ohters whipping their cut backs to make the blood flow. When they arrive at the chapels on their route they prostrate themselves, and children wash their whips in buckets of water and beat them on the legs and arms with sticks.

At the end of the festival, people dressed as Roman soldiers and characters from the Bible parade Jesus and the two thieves through the town, before nailing them to the cross. They really nail them up there (through the hands, their feet are tied) and the nails are huge. One of the main shots I wanted to get was a close-up of a nail being driven through a palm, but, alas, it was not to be. Photographers were corralled into an area in front of the crowd but not close enough to the crucifixions for the shots I wanted.

To be honest, as visually interesting as the Festival was, it's easily my least favourite among the religious events I documented during my time in Asia. It seemed to be purely theatre, and reliant more on machismo than mystery for its rituals. Granted, all of the other festivals I photographed have an element of both theatre and machismo, but there also seemed to be something else, something intangible under the surface that made them fascinating to be a part of. Not so the Filipino Easter Processions; worth seeing for sure, but mysterious, no.

To see the full gallery, click here.


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