Penitensya is a Filipino Lenten tradition of self-flagellation in public places as a form of penance. This is observed by devout Roman Catholics in the Philippines during Good Friday, starting at around noon, the hottest time of the day.
During our visit to Boac, the capital town of Marinduque, for the Moriones Festival, we witnessed the local men of various age groups, the Flagelantes, performing the Penitesya around the streets of the town.
Using razor blades, the Fagelantes wounded themselves around their body: on the back, their chest, arms and legs. While walking around the streets, the Flagelantes would hit their wounds with wooden flails.
The Flagelantes believe that by doing the act of Penitensya, they re-live the pain suffered by Jesus Christ in the hands of the Roman soldiers. This act of penance is their way of asking forgiveness for their sins.
The Penitensya ends at the Boac Cathedral where the Flagelantes would lie flat on the pavement facing down and arms spread as an act of full surrender to the mercy of God.