Catholic zealots in the Philippines whipped their backs bloody and raw on Good Friday, as the fervently religious country marked Easter with gruesome displays of faith. Scores of men — their faces covered — walked barefoot as they flogged themselves with bamboo whips under a blazing sun near the capital Manila, while others carried wooden crosses as they were beaten, in a ritual frowned upon by the Church. Roy Balatbat, his skin still bearing fresh wounds from a public flailing on Thursday, walked for about a kilometre, striking himself and stopping to prostrate in prayer on the hot ground. “It’s punishing but if you have a wish, you will endure the pain,” Balatbat, 49, told AFP in Hagonoy municipality, Bulacan province. “I have been doing this for 30 years since I was a young man. My devotion is that I will only stop when I can’t do it anymore.” While most devotees in the mainly Catholic nation spend Good Friday at church or with family, others go to these extreme lengths to atone for sins or seek divine intervention. Before the grisly flogging begins, the men’s bare backs are deliberately punctured to make them bleed. Veterans of the gory spectacle display scars of previous whippings, while others endure the punishing act for the first time. “I inflict the wound to the penitents, if there’s not much blood coming out, they’ll ask for another one so their sins would be forgiven,” Reynaldo Tolentino, 51, explained.