Philippines is a nation dominated by the Roman Catholic Church with more than 80% followers out of the total population as of 2010. It is no surprise that each year, hundreds of penitents all around the Nation participate in extreme measures, including self-flagellation and crucifixion during the holy week.
Penitents are often seen at this time of the year bleeding from self-inflicted wound as they walk barefoot while carrying a huge cross and others faint while being nailed to the cross. Catholic organizations discourage such practice because of health risks, but devotees are still willing to perform these rituals and sacrifices as an expression of their devotion to Jesus Christ and as an act of atonement for their sins.
Gilbert Bargayo, a 57 year old Filipino and a Roman Catholic have been nailed to the cross 23 times. Going back to the time when Bargayo was still 17, 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 jail, some got killed and others died from substance abuse, he decided to answer the call and put these visions into reality.
Gilbert Bargayo has been nailed to the cross 23 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 foreign audiences and journalist, who are willing to visit the Philippines just to witness Bargayo’s re-enactment. Bringing 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. According to him, despite their agreement, some does not fulfil the deal and just give him a little amount of money that only covers his transportation expenses while some keep their words.
His chapel, which he names “Sagrada de Familia” meaning Holy Family is just few kilometres away from his home in Carcar, Cebu. He intends to invite priests in the chapel to do scheduled masses while he performs prayer healing as well.