Text by: Kimmy Baraoidan
Photos by: Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan
Just in front of the town plaza is the Church of San Pedro de Alcantara. Jesus would have been livid, with all the commercial activity happening just right in front of the church. This church is a famous destination for those going on Visita Iglesia. It is not uncommon to see visitors, especially the younger ones, in their summer outfits posing for photos in front of the church or taking photos, selfies or groufies using the latest gadgets – a stark contrast to the older ones who enter the church quietly and actually pray.
Not far from the church, hidden from the crowd’s exoticism-clouded lenses, down the long, winding road past the public cemetery, a group of men who call themselves Hugas Dugo prepares for the day’s activities. The group, which has been in existence since the ‘80s, performs self-flagellation during this time of the year and roams the downtown streets, each member’s identity concealed in makeshift cloth facemasks, worn-out shirts, and banana leaves. The previous year, the flagellants wore hand-crafted headdress made of dried leaves, but this year they decided to make do without them. I first encountered this group of men last year, and this time it was not hard for me to find where they are tucked away.