For how many years in my existence, never have I encountered any Holy Week without the magdarame. With blood-soaked backs and kids at their sides like flies, flagellants whip their backs with bamboo sticks to, as they believe, be united with Christ in His sufferings.
As what people call them, the magdarame do what they do because they believe they could make damay or oneness with the sufferings of Christ. Damay literally means to sympathize with someone.
I could not help but ponder why many people chose to become magdarame where they could make other forms of repentance.
When Christ died on the cross, He never reminded us that we have to follow exactly the path He showed us. He did not literally tell us the whip our backs, carry our literal crosses and nail ourselves. What He wanted us to do is to turn away from our sins, believe in Him, and do all in our power to help the least of our brothers and sisters.
Pakikiramay with Christ in His passion is to carry our own crosses--that is, to let go of our selfish and immoral desires so we can follow His examples better. When we sympathize with Him in His sorrows, we say "sorry" for all of the wrongdoings we have done and promise to life a new life--one that is in accordance with His will.
No amount of blood can symbolize how much we have "repented" for our sins. Genuine repentance comes from within, and not from back whipping.
Have a blessed Holy Week.