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Moriones Festival » Unique Lenten Festival You Need to Experience

Funny face of Mr. Bean used in Moriones Festival
Last summer, I was lucky enough to finally get a chance to experience the spectacular Moriones Festival first-hand. The experiences I had at this vibrant, exciting festival in Marinduque is no doubt one of my most memorable trips, and I am delighted to be able to finally check this off on my Philippine festival’s to-attend list.

It is really one thing to travel the Philippines but it is another to experience it. Hence, on our trip to Marinduque, we schedule it during the Lenten season to experience its unique way of celebrating holy week, aside of course from the amazing Marinduque's unexplored beaches. 

Although the basic rituals are practiced all over the Philippines, variations do occur depending on the parish, town, or people concerned.. Lent season in my hometown in Mindoro is a little bit bloody. During the Huwebes-Santo and especially during the Biyernes-Santo, you can see on the streets the the Penetensiya. These are half-naked men, with faces covered with a cloth and heads adorned with coconut or dried banana leaves. They usually have "Kadlit" or blade cuts at their backs. They will then whip their backs with a "Tipo" or whip made of bamboo sticks tied together with a rope. Lent season in our town is definitely bloody - and sans the colors, a bit solemn and conservative.

Well, attending this Moriones Festival definitely gave me a different taste of the Lenten Season. 

Moriones wearing colorful wooden mask and thick body costume
Moriones: Participants wearing colorful heavy wooden mask and
medieval Roman costume
The Moriones is a Lenten tradition observed in the province of Marinduque since the 1800's. Locals parade on the streets, wearing the heavy wooden Morion mask and the thick cape, as an act of penance or vow. 

Moriones parade together with statues of saints at the street of Torrijos
The festival also includes the procession of family owned statues of Saints beautifully decorated carrozas (floats) bedecked in fresh flowers.

The festival was said to originate in Mogpog, and other towns including Santa Cruz which have their own versions. But these days the major Moriones festival celebration is being held in Boac. Too bad we were not able to witness the celebrations there which is said to be more colorful - so we just attended the festival in Torrijos.   

Moriones bullying other morion on a funny chubby mask
No I'm not Longines!
The Moriones Festival celebrates the life of Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ’s side during the Crucifixion. Blood from the wound spattered Longinus’s blind eye, which was immediately healed. He later attested to the Resurrection and, refusing to recant, was executed. 

Kids wearing masks as Morions participating in street procession during the Moriones Festival
Kids joining the search for Longines
 The Marinduqueño's version of this story is colorful and sometimes bizarre. This of course involves the fanciful masked figures dressed as centurions chasing Longinus around town and through nearby fields.

Tired Moriones on a parade removing mask
Moriones Feast participants taking off their masks to cool down during the parade
Morion means "mask", which is part of the medieval Roman centurion’s helmet. Moriones are the masked penitents who take part in the reenactment of the legend of Longinus, and Passion of the Christ.

Morion on a colorful costume texting during the Moriones festival
Wer na U, Here na Me!!
What makes the Moriones Festival more festive is the the staging of “Battle of the Morions,” a competition joined by various Morion groups.

The competition follows the rituals associated with the festival in stylized form or choreographic movements covering the miracle of Longinus and includes the mock “Habulan” and eventual capture of Longinus, the “Pugutan” and finally the Moryonan finale.

The Apostoles on a colorful clothes during the Prusisyon
The Living Apostoles
Of course the celebration is not complete without the traditional "prusisyon" or procession. Here, images of the saints who had had participation in the days prior to the crucifixion as well as those depicting the suffering of Christ are put on decorated carros with the Nazareno followed by the living apostoles. 

Man with his palms and feet nailed in cross as part of Holy Week celebration
This man actually had his palms and feet nailed into the cross.
Reenactment of the Crucifixion as part of the Moriones Festival in Marinduque
Morions looking at the crucified Jesus during the Crucifixion Reenactment

A student acting as Mary Magdalene during Jesus Crucifixion Reenactment
A student participant acting during the Crucifixion Reenactment

Mary looking at Jesus at the cross during the crucifxion reenactment in Torrijos Marinduque
The Crucifixion reenactment in Torrijos, Marinduque

Man actually nailed to a cross during holy week celebration in Torrijos Marinduque
Actual crucifixion - This man is brave enough to have his hands and feet actually nailed to a cross.

During our visit, we were also able to witness the re-enactment of the crucifixion, with one participant portraying the role of Jesus, gets his hands and feet nailed to a cross. It was announced that this is the first time that an actual crucifixion was held in Torrijos - cool because it is also my first time to witness such event.

Statue of the Dead Christ during the Pahalik sa Señor - Holy Week celebration
Santo Entierro
After the statue of the dead Christ, known as the Santo Entierro, borne on a decorated funeral carriage, brought around the town of Torrijos and back to the Saint Ignatius of Loyola Parish Church, the locals soon lined up for the “Pahalik sa Señor”.

Truly unique

The Moriones Festival truly symbolizes an elegant mix of well preserved Filipino culture and tradition.

The experiences I had at this vibrant, exciting festival will no doubt last a lifetime. My recommendation for those who are looking to get the most out of the festival would be for them to spend two full days at the festival itself, observing the action, and head out into the towns with bigger celebrations such as in Boac.

Mask looking like the funny face of Mr. Bean during the Moriones Festival
You will really have fun at the Moriones Festival

Have you attended this Festival before? Then please share your experiences on the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Unforgettable Marinduque 

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