In full faith on fate, photo essay by Ralph Piezas
Philippines a nation dominated by the Roman Catholic Church with an estimated 80 million followers, around 80,6% of the Philippine population as of 2010. It is no surprise that each year, hundreds of penitents all around the Philippines participate in extreme measures, including self-flagellation and crucifixion during the holy week.
With penitents bleeding from self-inflicted wound while walking barefoot on a scorching heat carrying a huge cross and others faint while being nailed or hanged to the cross. Catholic organizations discouraged this practice because of health risks but despite the warning devotees are still willing to take the risk and perform extreme sacrifices as an expression of their devotion and gratification to Jesus Christ or atonement of their sins.
Every devotee has their own unique reason of enduring and inflicting such pain to oneself. One man had participated in multiple Crucifixion that he has become known to the religious community.
His reason of doing it was completing a vision he had in a dream 39 years ago.
Gilbert Bargayo, a 56 year old Filipino and a Roman Catholic have been nailed to the cross 21 times and still have no plans of stopping.
Going back to the time when Bargayo was still 17 years of age, he had a dream that keeps on recurring. His vision and reverie of the Holy Spirit took him to where he is right now.
He had this dream of an image of God together with the angels bringing him to a paradise and telling him to do what Jesus Christ suffered.
At the age of 30, after seeing most of his friends go to prison, some got killed and sick because of vices and substance abuse, he decided to answer the call and put these visions into reality.
His first year started by walking few kilometers carrying cross while being whipped with a cable wire and sometimes a wooden stick, and after a few years he was able to gather enough strength to be crucified.
After he got crucified for the seventh time, he decided to quit but he had a dream, however, this time it was different and much clearer, he was told not to quit because he has to build a chapel for the community.
It was then he made a decision beyond doubt to start building a chapel from the sweat and sacrifices he gets through nailing.
Gilbert Bargayo has been nailed to the cross 21 times in different areas of the Philippines (Carcar, Tacloban, Cainta Rizal, Lapu-Lapu, Dalaguete, Guadalupe, Dolho Fatima and Tuburan)
His crucifixion has reached the curiosity of not just local but also foreign audiences and journalist, who are willing to visit the Philippines just to be able to witness Gilbert Bargayo’s re enactment.
Gilbert’s crucifixion brings more than thousands of audiences (15,000-16,000) last 2014, both local and foreign to the City during holy week which in turn increases the city’s income specifically in tourism.
Gilbert’s only request to the local government is to help him build his chapel.
His chapel which he names “Sagrada de Familia” meaning Holy Family is located beside the road in Carcar, a province in Cebu it is a few kilometers away from his home. The community where his Chapel stands has to walk far to reach the nearby chapel, almost all the people living in this area are Catholic and are religiously active. His plan is after his chapel is done he will invite priest to do mass and on a scheduled day he can do prayer healing.
According to him despite their agreement with the Mayors some does not fulfill the said deal, after the Crucifixion others just give him money that doesn’t break even the expenses they have to pay (transportation and labor) while others keep their words.
Bargayo has heard a lot from people as to why he is doing this, according to him people thinks he is into drugs, he belongs to a cult , badly needs money or attention, and even some of his friends thinks he has a mental problem.
But despite the negativity, he said that he has no plans of stopping in fulfilling his mission and that he is willing to do the sacrifices as long as his body allows him. (Ralph Piezas)