Moriones Festival: A Colorful Celebration of Faith and Culture
Moriones Festival is one of the most popular and distinctive festivals in the Philippines. It is a week-long event that showcases the religious and cultural heritage of Marinduque, an island province in the heart of the country. The festival is held during Holy Week, which usually falls in March or April, and it honors the life, passion, and death of Jesus Christ through various activities and reenactments.
The term “Moriones” refers to the Roman soldiers who were involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. These soldiers are brought to life by the participants who wear elaborate masks and costumes that resemble the biblical Imperial Roman soldiers. The masks are made of wood, paper mache, or fiberglass, and they are painted with different colors and expressions. The costumes are composed of tunics, capes, helmets, and armor. The participants, known as “Moriones” or “Moryon”, roam the streets of Marinduque for seven days, engaging in antics, surprises, and street performances.
The main theme of the festival is the story of St. Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind in one eye. According to legend, he pierced the side of Jesus with a spear during the crucifixion, and a drop of blood fell into his blind eye, restoring his sight. This miracle converted him to Christianity and earned him the wrath of his fellow soldiers. The festival culminates with the dramatic reenactment of his capture, conversion, and beheading.
The Moriones Festival is a folk-religious event that combines cultural practices and folk history with street festivals. It is a way of expressing devotion, gratitude, and penance for the locals. It is also a way of preserving and promoting their unique identity and tradition.
What are the activities and highlights of the Moriones Festival?
The Moriones Festival offers a variety of activities and highlights for locals and tourists alike. Some of them are:
• The Mask-Making Contest. This is a competition where local artisans showcase their creativity and craftsmanship in making the Moriones masks. The contest is held before the Holy Week and the winners are announced during the festival.
• The Pabasa. This is a recitation of Christ’s passion in verse, usually accompanied by music. The Pabasa is performed by different groups in various locations throughout the province.
• The Via Crucis. This is a reenactment of the suffering of Christ on his way to Calvary. Some participants inflict pain on themselves by whipping their backs, carrying wooden crosses, or even crucifying themselves. They do this as a form of atonement or sacrifice for their sins.
• The Senakulo. This is a theatrical play that depicts the life and death of Jesus Christ. The Senakulo is performed by local actors on different stages across the province.
• The Morion Parade. This is a procession where hundreds of Moriones march along the streets with music and dance. The parade attracts thousands of spectators who enjoy watching the colorful and lively spectacle.
• The Cenaculo. This is a reenactment of the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles. The Cenaculo is held on Holy Thursday night at Boac Cathedral.
• The Pagtaltal. This is a reenactment of the descent of Jesus from the cross. The Pagtaltal is held on Good Friday afternoon at Gasan town.
• The Salubong. This is a reenactment of the meeting of Jesus and his mother Mary after his resurrection. The Salubong is held on Easter Sunday dawn at Santa Cruz town.
• The Longinus Hunt. This is the climax of the festival where Moriones chase Longinus around the town until they catch him and behead him. The Longinus Hunt is held on Easter Sunday morning at Mogpog town.
How to join and enjoy the Moriones Festival?
If you want to join and enjoy the Moriones Festival, here are some tips:
• Plan your trip ahead of time. Book your flights, accommodations, and transportation in advance as they tend to get fully booked during peak season.
• Choose your destination wisely. Marinduque has six towns that celebrate the Moriones Festival: Boac, Gasan, Mogpog, Santa Cruz, Buenavista, and Torrijos. Each town has its own schedule and style of celebration. You can choose one or more towns depending on your preference and budget.
• Respect the culture and tradition. The Moriones Festival is not only a tourist attraction but also a sacred ritual for the locals. Be respectful of their beliefs and practices. Do not touch or mock the Moriones or their masks and costumes. Do not interfere with their activities or performances. Ask for permission before taking photos or videos.
• Have fun and immerse yourself. The Moriones Festival is a unique and unforgettable experience that you can only find in Marinduque. Have fun and immerse yourself in the culture and history of the province. Join the festivities, watch the shows, taste the local delicacies, and interact with friendly people. You will surely have a memorable time at the Moriones Festival.