Ever since I met my wife, all of my Holy Week vacations are spent in Pangil, Laguna. Aside from the Good Friday procession, one of the highlights would be watching men performing "penitensya" as part of their "panata" or "religious vow" which they promised to keep in exchange for an answered prayer, like healing from sickness of a loved one, passing the board exam, getting the dream job, etc.
What's ironic though is that although my wife wants to stay in Pangil during the Holy Week, she is still afraid of the penitensya (or what the locals call the people performing the ritual), a fear she had when she was still young. She said she isn't afraid of the flagellants (person performing penitensya or self-infliction of wound by whipping), but rather of being hit by blood splatter or because of the odor of fresh blood.
Even before sunrise of Maundy Thursday, one can already hear the sound of the wooden tipped or chain whips as these flagellants walk through the streets of Pangil. The penitensya ends just right after the evening procession on Good Friday.
Today, some penitensyas wear masks instead of a cloth around their face to hide their identity, while others just wear sunglasses, and still others just walk with their face exposed. Maybe one of the reasons why some kids are afraid of the penitensyas is because of how they look like while walking through the streets.