Maleldo is the Kapampangan word for Holy Week. Maleldo Festival is a holy week re-enactment of Christ’s passion. It is an event which appeals to countless pilgrims and tourists during the Lenten season who want to witness the Way of the Cross.
The streets, paths, and lanes leading to the crucifixion spot are filled with penitents walking barefoot with improvised crowns of thorns on their head. They whip themselves in quiet procession.
The re-enactment of Christ’s Passion and Death specifically takes place in Barangay San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando, Pampanga which climaxes with the actual nailing of the penitents on a wooden cross atop a makeshift calvary.
There are different classes of penitents or flagellants. There’s “mamusan krus,” where flagellants carry crosses. Another kind is called “mamalaspas,” where they whip themselves until they bleed. And then there’s the “magsalibatbat,” where flagellants crawl on hot pavement and dirt roads, and last of all, the “kristos,” where flagellants are nailed to a cross.
Even though this practice is not recognized by the Catholic Church, this ritual is being respected as some locals’ manner of asking for the forgiveness of their sins or a practice of showing gratitude for answered prayers which later on be their vow or panata.
The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is not in favor of this kind of re-enactment of Christ’s passion. The church believes that the true meaning of Christian faith can be done through repentance and self-renewal, not crucifixion or flagellation.
But if you want to experience a truly unique lenten season next year, witnessing this chivalrous display of faith might be the way to go.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Ride a bus bound to Bataan or Zambales and alight at SM City Pampanga or Robinsons Starmills Pampanga. Take a jeepney with the signboard “Palengke” to reach downtown San Fernando. Then ride a tricycle to reach Barangay San Pedro Cutud.