Gilbert Bargayo, the man who made a name in Cebu and in the world for having himself crucified during Good Fridays, recalled how this sacrifice of his started.
He said he grew up in Tacloban City, Leyte, but his parents had moved to Barangay Cogon, Carcar City, where it all began.
Sitting on a sofa next to a window inside his house, Bargayo told The FREEMAN in an exclusive interview that when he was 16 years old, he dreamed that a tall, bearded man brought him to a place that he could only describe as paradise.
The man, whom he believed was God, told him “magsakripisyo ka” (you make a sacrifice), but he did not know what those words meant to him.
He said he had the same dream four years later. Again, the man told him “magsakripisyo ka”. He, however, neither bothered putting too much thought into the meaning of that dream nor realized that it would shape his life later.
“Nagdamgo ko mga 16 years old ko, gidala ko sa Iya place. Bongoton man tong tawhana, taas nga tawo. Gidala ko sa paradise mao to nga sigi ko ingnan niya ‘magsakrisyo’. Ikaduha, 20 na akong edad,” Bargayo said.
He said he was living a sinful life that time. He was into almost all kind of vices.
“Laki sa layaw jeproks man ko sa una. Inom, drugs, marijuana…disco, barkada, tanang bisyo, dala na tong pamakak, tanan,” he said.
He, however, changed his ways after he joined a religious organization that called for renewal.
Right after joining the group, he thought of his dream and started to wonder what it meant. It, however, took some more years of contemplation before he realized its meaning.
Bargayo said it was only when he was 30 that he completely changed his life and thought of crucifixion as the sacrifice requested.
He said he joined a crucifixion in Cainta, Rizal, convinced that it would atone for his sins and was the sacrifice asked of him in his dream.
He still could remember the pain he felt when he had himself crucified for the first time.
“Sakit uy,” he said. He then stood up to get something in his room.
He came back with a plastic pack and a black pouch containing four nails still stained with his blood that he will be using in his 22nd crucifixion Good Friday next week.
He also showed two concrete nails that were first impaled in his hands in Cainta, Rizal. He kept them as souvenir of his first ever crucifixion.
He said that at first only his hands were impaled but soon after he already had his feet included.
One would think that by now he is already used to having himself crucified.
But he said that each time he is to be crucified he still fear for his life.
“Kulbaan pero bisan naay kulba salig lang sa Ginoo. Unsay madangatan nimo salig lang,” he said.
Last year, his left foot bled severely after his assistant miscalculated when he hammered in the nail and missed the exact spot.
“Grabe ang dugo pero inig bunlot ra man sa lansang,” Bargayo said
To prepare for his crucifixion, Bargayo said he prayed always and fasted for 40 days ending on Good Friday, eating only fruits.
A mug in hand, he told The Freeman that he only drinks calamansi juice during the whole 40 days of fasting.
The preparation is no joke, he said, but he was now already used to it. He said that on the day of the crucifixion he eats nothing but fruits and drinks nothing but water.
When he decided to have himself crucified in Carcar City in 1996, police officers from Tacloban City arrested him by virtue of an arrest warrant for murder.
The case was dismissed for lack of probable cause but by then he was already imprisoned for six months and two days already for a crime that he did not commit.
Next week, he would be crucified for the fourth time in Tuburan town. He is offering it for a peaceful and honest election.
“Alang sa eleksyon… hapsay, way gubot, way patay,” he said.
In a separate interview, Tuburan Mayor Democrito “Aljun” Diamante said he welcomed Bargayo’s decision to do his sacrifice again in Tuburan.
He had been crucified in Barangays Guadalupe and Duljo-Fatima in Cebu City; Cainta, Rizal; Tacloban City, Leyte; Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu; Carcar City, Cebu; Barangay Mantalongon, Dalaguete, Cebu; and in Tuburan.
Diamante said he supports Bargayo’s initiative of showing how Christ died on the cross as a “wakeup call” for Tuburan residents to change their ways.