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Untangling the man from the myth is a delicate undertaking, but should be of interest to those of all faiths, said Tobias Hagerland, a doctoral candidate at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden."I think it's natural for human beings to ask questions 'why' something happened, and those are not exactly the questions dealt with in the Gospels," said Hagerland.
The re-enactment of the passion of Jesus Christ draws thousands of tourists to the Pampanga region, 80 km (50 miles) north of the capital, to watch barefoot penitents flagellate themselves and a series of crucifixions on an artificial hill.
Ruben Enaje, 52, portraying Jesus Christ for the 27th time, hangs on a cross beside two other Christians portraying Dismas and Gestas, after he was nailed to the cross in San Pedro Cutud town, Pampanga province, north of Manila Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said the gory practice was a distortion of Christ's teachings of love and selfless service.
Some think the sign of the cross to be effective in warding off evil spirits and for generally protecting believers from harm. After all, Jesus was crucified on a cross, was He not?
Have not Christians used the sign of the cross throughout all ages to show to the world their belief in the Savior of mankind?
So reads the chorus to a very popular Christian hymn that churches have sung for many years.