Moriones Festival 2016
Spending my Holy Week in the island province of Marinduque
I was recently invited by Department of Tourism (DOT) Region IV Director, Minerva Morada, to join a group of writers and media people, to experience this year’s Moriones Festival in the beautiful island province of Marinduque. I have previously planned to go to Marinduque to spend my Holy Week, but I was reluctant since my schedule did not seem to permit such. However, RD Morada’s invitation made me throw my hat over the wall and just spend my Holy Week in Marinduque. I did just that, and I loved every moment of it!
When we arrived in the province, we were immediately welcomed by the locals with a Putong or Tubong—an age old tradition in Marinduque. Putong, which literally means ‘to crown’, is a simple ceremony done to birthday celebrants, or to visitors like us. Each of us were crowned, strewn with flowers and coins, and sang prayers for good health, hope, and a long, blessed life. It was a short but festive ceremony that prepped me for the entire week I was going to spend in Marinduque. Putong is alternatively called Tubong in other parts of the island, but is nevertheless celebrated in more or less the same way despite the various names.
We spent the holy week in Marinduque touring around the province. The island province of Marinduque is blessed with azure skies and sandy coastlines, beaches, caves, and springs. Almost each municipality had its own collection of parishes and churches established by the Spanish colonizers before, as well.
Also Read: The Best Beach Destinations in Marinduque
Of course, even if we all marveled at Marinduque’s natural beauty, it is no doubt that the highlight of our Holy Week trip to the island province was the celebration of the Moriones Festival.
The Moriones Festival is annually held during Holy Week. What is perhaps most interesting about this festival is that it is province-wide: all municipalities participate in it. Each municipality has its own contribution to the overall celebration of the Moriones Festival.
The Moriones Festival was originally just a town-wide festival, held in Mogpog. The festival began in 1887, and was spearheaded by Fr. Dionisio Santiago. The events in the festival also involved the events of the Moriones Festival we know of today, but was only held in Mogpog. Eventually the scope of the festival grew annually. Today, the festival holds several events, which include the Senakulo, the Via Crusis, and a week-long reenactment of the story of the one-eye-blind Roman centurion, Saint Longinus, and many more.
The Moriones Festival is generally a festival held to commemorate and reenact—on the streets—notable Biblical events. Local participants—called the moriones—wear flashy costumes and colorful masks to imitate Roman soldiers and other Biblical characters. But aside from the iconic street parades, the Moriones Festival also involves a lot of events held in each municipality.
Our stay during the Moriones Festival was one Holy Week I would never forget. Each night, we visited the poblacion of Boac to witness the Senakulo—a reenactment of the first vision of God. The play involved actors who dressed up as Jesus Christ, Adam and Eve, the Nazareth, Moses, Virgin Mary, Joseph, and many more. Biblical events that were reenacted included the story of Moses, the marriage of Virgin Mary and Joseph, the annunciation of Mary, the visitation of Nativity, and Jesus Christ’s passion and resurrection.
On Holy Wednesday, we watched religious icons related to the Agony and the Passion of the Christ paraded on the streets on wheeled or shoulder-pulled carozas.
On Good Friday, we visited the town of Gasan to witness the Via Crusis (lit. Stations of the Cross), a procession that depicts the fourteen Stations of the Cross.
I appreciate the celebration of the Moriones Festival, and how much effort the locals give in celebration and preparation for it. I magnificently commend the reenactment of the seven-day search for Saint Longinus. I praise the locals for preparing a realistic reenactment of Saint Longinus’s story each day during the Holy Week. Each day was a different scene, a different part of the story, but there was nevertheless continuity and progress.
I believe that the younger generation will also be able to appreciate notable Biblical events and strengthen their faith, with the Moriones Festival’s creative, colorful, and festive depiction of the Bible’s stories. I am glad that I was able to spend my Holy Week in Marinduque, and I will definitely be back again!
How to get to Marinduque
You may get to Marinduque from Manila only by sea since the commercial flights to Marinduque are now suspended. Some liners, like Jac Liner, offer continuous trips with fare rates inclusive of bus and ferry rides. If you prefer cutting trips you may ride any bus liner bound to Dalahican Port in Lucena, where you can catch a ferry to Marinduque.