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Telco firm, Coke sponsor Filipino crucifixion festival

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Filipino phone outfit Smart Telecommunications and Coca Cola will be soaking up the goodwill today as key sponsors of a mass Good Friday crucifixion in the Philippines.

The City of San Fernando’s annual Good Friday re-enactment of Christ’s Passion is set to include not one, not three, but 23 real live crucifixions, as eager penitents seek to emulate Jesus by being nailed to crosses. Other slightly less committed penitents will restrict themselves to a thorough scourging.

Church and civil authorities actually frown on the practice, but the citizens can’t seem to get enough. So, the local government has decided to go with the flow, and restrict itself to ensuring the nails are sterilised and that all the crucifixees have a tetanus shot.

Smart Telecom and Coca Cola have apparently struck some kind of sponsorship deal with the government of San Fernando. Presumably this will help bankroll the preparations the city has to make to deal with the hordes of tourists and international media who will be descending on the city.

What Smart and Coke get out of it is hard to see - these deals typically include some kind of product placement. Jesus may have had a hotline to his holy father in heaven, but it was spiritual, not cellular, so product placement during the crucifest should, thankfully, be a non-starter. Even with a hands-free model.

As for Coke, the only liquids mentioned in the passion story were in the form of a vinegar-soaked sponge, or the mixture of water and blood said to have flowed from a wound in Christ’s side. If Coke thinks it can tastefully substitute itself in either scenario, it really would be a miracle. ®

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