The Moriones Festival is a yearly religious festival held in the province of Marinduque. During this festival, men and women wear colorful costumes, including masks, which replicate the clothes worn by Roman legionnaires during biblical times. Several towns in Marinduque serve as a giant stage for the festivities. The celebration starts on Holy Monday and concludes on Easter Sunday.
The first Moriones was held in the town of Mogpog in 1807. It was started by Fr. Dionisio Santiago, who was the town’s parish priest during that time.
The name of the festival was derived from the Spanish word morion, which means mask or visor. They reenact the story of Longinus, a Roman centurion with a blind eye. According to legend, Longinus pierced the side of Jesus Christ’s body while he was crucified on the cross. The blood that spurted out from the wound touched Longinus blind eye, and his sight was fully restored. Because of this miracle, Longinus converted to become a Christian. This made the other centurions angry. They chase Longinus all over the town. Once caught, he was made to kneel before Pontius Pilate and beheaded him.
The morions also roam the streets of all throughout the week, scaring the children, serenading the ladies or playing tricks to get attention. The unsuspecting victims do not recognize the “soldiers” because of their full costumes.
The towns in the province also hold pabasa, where the story of Christ’s passion is recited in verse. A reenactment of the suffering and crucifixion of Christ is one of the highlights of the festival. During the reenactment, men inflict pain on themselves by whipping their bare backs and carrying crosses. Some even allow themselves to be crucified.