6 Things to See at Marinduque’s Moriones Festival
Held during the Holy Week every year, the Moriones Festival in Marinduque is more than just festivities; it is an observance of Catholic faith and an honour to some of its old traditions. The festival in fact made Marinduque the Lenten Mecca of the Southern Tagalog region.
1. Via Cruzis (Way of the Cross)
Considered as the Moriones Festival’s highlight, Via Cruzis or the Way of the Cross is the re-enactment of Christ’s sufferings as He carried His Cross to Calvary, where all fourteen Stations of the Cross are emphasized. This is being witnessed by devotees as well as locals and visitors, who somehow felt the agony of Christ as the scenes from the Bible come to life with devotees as actors, who were literally whipped, pushed, dragged and mocked by the Morions. It ends in Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified.
Via Cruzis takes place on a Good Friday, in the streets of Boac, where the place transforms into a moving stage and ends in the makeshift hill in the Moriones Arena at the Boac Riverside.
While the main event of the Moriones Festival is the Via Cruzis, its main attraction is the Morions. The origin of the word Moriones came from the term, Morion, which means mask, a piece that covers the face, and a part of the medieval Roman armour. Morions are devotees who wear hand-carved or paper-mache made bearded, fierce-looking masks to match the costume of a centurion. They roam around the six towns of Marinduque the whole week to scare the kids, play pranks on the villagers, or dance in groups; but beneath the tough and terrifying image are people who are actually on the act of penance or thanksgiving. As a tradition, the identity of a Morion is kept secret even to his immediate family, that even their masks are prepared with discretion. Truly a must-see, one should never leave the Festival without taking a picture with a ferocious Morion.
3. Religious Processions
As it is a celebration of faith, a series of religious processions are also observed, and nonetheless worth experiencing, Catholic or not, because everyone is encouraged to join. Some of these processions are:
- Palm Sunday Procession. Palm Sunday represents Christ’s Triumphant Entry to Jerusalem. During the procession, people carry with them _palaspas _fronds or decorated fresh shoots of coconut or nipa palm leaves which are later being blessed in the Church at the end of the Holy Mass. The Palaspas are believed to drive away evil.
- Holy Wednesday Procession. On Holy Wednesday, religious icons related to the Agony and Passion of Christ are paraded on wheeled or shoulder-borne carozas.
- Salubong. Probably the most important of all the Holy Week processions, Salubong symbolizes the meeting of the Sorrowful Mother Mary with the Resurrected Jesus Christ. It starts with two separate processions, one with the black-veiled Mater Dorosa, consisting barely of women, and the other with the icon of the Resurrected Christ.
The tradition of Senakulo is a series of theatrical plays seen during the evening of Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, in the morning of Good Friday, and after the midnight Mass on Easter Sunday. Senkulo based their stage presentations on significant Old and New Testament passages of the Holy Bible.
5. Pugutan sa Araw ng Linggo ng Muling Pagkabuhay
Serves as the climax of the Lenten celebration, Pugutan _is Filipino’s own version of the Passion of Christ. It shows the life of Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus Christ’s side with a spear while he was on the cross. Longinus was also the one, who had witnessed Jesus’ Resurrection, arrested for spreading the news of His rebirth, and was later beheaded as punishment, hence the term _pugutan.
6. Folk Customs
A Good Friday is a special day in Marinduque for practicing folk beliefs. These two are particularly done as they are believed to easily make people’s prayers heard:
- Tawak Drinking. Tawak is made of mint leaves, barks, roots, and other secret ingredients prepared by a healer who then whispers a prayer, also known as bulong to further make the potion effective.
- Antipo (flagellants). Men go out to their local cemetery in the morning to have their bare backs slashed skin deep with razors, which they would whip themselves using pieces of wood or bamboo tied together in a string. To mark the end of the ritual, they would have their wounds washed in the river or the sea