by - 10:34 PM

Right at the heart of the Philippines, the oldest festival in the country is being held at the Province of Marinduque. This is an annual festival held every holy week.  The festival commences at Palm Sunday and ends at Easter Sunday.

This is the Moriones Festival.

The festival is a folk-religious festival that re-enacts the story of Saint Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind on one eye. The festival is characterized by colorful Roman costumes, painted masks and helmets, and brightly colored tunics. The towns of Boac, Gasan, Santa Cruz, Buenavista and Mogpog in the island of Marinduque become one gigantic stage.

For the year 2013, I am blessed to have witnessed a portion of the week-long festivities on two towns, that of Boac and of Santa Cruz.

What is Moriones?

The "Moriones" are men and women in costumes and masks replicating the garb of biblical Roman soldiers as interpreted by local folks.  This festival in the island of Marinduque has inspired the creation of other festivals in the Philippines where cultural practices or folk history is turned into street festivals.

The term "Moriones" was concocted by the media in the 60's, but local inhabitants have kept the original term "Moryonan".  Many practitioners are farmers and fishermen who engage in this age-old tradition as a vow of penance or thanksgiving. Legend has it that Longinus pierced the side of the crucified Christ.  The blood that spurted forth touched his blind eye and fully restored his sight.  This miracle converted Longinus to christianity and earned the ire of his fellow centurions. The re-enactment reaches it climax when Longinusis caught and beheaded.

As I Wander  

Masked and costumed penitents march around the town  for seven days searching for Longinus.  On our part, we were able to catch the moriones on colorful costumes wandering in the towns of Boac and Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz, Marinduque
Date: March 28, 2013  (Holy Thursday)

All activities of this week-long festival are mostly held at the Town Hall of Santa Cruz. On one morning en route to the public market, we have spotted several moriones dressed in colorful costumes.  

At night, a competition was held at the town hall grounds, showcasing the different interpretations on the story of Longinus. The rain fell so hard that night and so, we were only able to witness the first three presentations and we decided to just wander in the plaza and look for more moriones for photo sessions.  Afterwards, we then head back to the Maniwaya island where we mostly stayed for the week, through our chartered outrigger canoe.

Boac, Marinduque
Travel Dates:  March 29 and 30, 2013 (Good Friday and Black Saturday)

Boac is the capital of Marinduque island, where the whole town is converted into a huge stage for the festivities.  The one-week lenten celebration in Boac include the Senakulo, the religious processions, Morion Parade, and the highlight of the festival - Pugutan.  In Pugutan, Longinus story is being linked to the passion of Christ and his death.

We were fortunate enough to have witnessed the religious procession on Good Friday and the much anticipated Morion Parade on Black Saturday.

Religious Procession

Upon arrival at Boac, Marinduque, we roamed around the town to search for available hostels but to no avail.  As expected of a small town whose arms are open to all visitors despite the lack of available temporary refuge, we still tried our luck.  Just when we were about to give up, GOD must have made ways for us to meet Mang Danilo.  We were offered to stay at their house for free.  And the rest is history.

Since the roads were closed leading to Mang Danilo's humble abode, we first stayed at the town proper and decided to witness the religious procession.

The Philippines, being a Catholic country, is expected to hold festivities and ceremonies of religious nature.  But with this lenten celebration in the island, it is indeed remarkable how the said event is highly attended by the pilgrims.  Culture and history combined is the rationale for this festivities.  The procession was indeed well-attended where prayers were professed while walking the streets of Boac.

Morion Parade

The following day, we went to the town plaza of Boac to witness the Morion Parade.  With colorful Roman costumes and painted masks, mostly poker-faced, the Moriones were a sight to feast upon.  Armed with our camera lenses, the touristy approach of attending the festivities then began.  Every corner of the town,  the Moriones will not be missed, of varied ages.

The mandatory photos with the Morions should not be missed as part of the wandering.

Since the Moriones Festival is about the search for Longinus.  We were able to spot Longinus and had a photo taken with him.

We had fun at the 2013 Moriones Festival experience.  Truly, a one of  a kind experience.


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  1. i have yet to experience moriones. maybe next year :)

  2. u should try it po. hehe kelangan lang magpareserve in advance sa jac liner if u want a hassle free transpo goin there