The province of Marinduque resided by its peace-loving people was ranked number 1 by the Philippine National Police and Philippine Security Forces as the 2013 Most Peaceful Province of the country due to its low crime rate statistics alternately ranking with the province of Batanes yearly. Furthermore, for almost 200 years, the province is home to one of the oldest religious festivals of the country: the unique and colorful Moriones Festival celebrated annually every holy week.
The Moriones is an annual festival held on Holy Week on the island of Marinduque, Philippines. The “Moriones” are men and women in costumes and masks replicating the garb of biblical Roman soldiers as interpreted by local folks. The Moriones or Moryonan tradition has inspired the creation of other festivals in the Philippines where cultural practices or folk history is turned into street festivals.
It is a colorful festival celebrated on the island of Marinduque in the Philippines. The participants use morion masks to depict the Roman soldiers and Syrian mercenaries within the story of the Passion of the Christ. The mask was named after the 16th and 17th century Morion helmet. The Moriones refers to the masked and costumed penitents who march around the town for seven days searching for Longinus. Morions roam the streets in town from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday scaring the kids, or engaging in antics or surprises to draw attention. This is a folk-religious festival that re-enacts the story of Saint Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind in 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. The observances form part of the Lenten celebrations of Marinduque. The various towns also hold the unique tradition of the pabasa or the recitation of Christ’s passion in verse. Then at three o’clock on Good Friday afternoon, the Santo Sepulcro is observed, whereby old women exchange verses based on the Bible as they stand in wake of the dead Christ. One of the highlights of this festival is the Via Crucis. A re-enactment of the suffering of Christ on his way to the calvary. Men inflict suffering upon themselves by whipping their backs, carrying a wooden cross and sometimes even crucifixion. They see this act as their form of atonement for their sins. This weeklong celebration starts on Holy Monday and ends on Easter Sunday.