Nestled in the heart of the Philippines, Marinduque is home to a remarkable annual event that captivates locals and tourists: the Moriones Festival.
This exciting and tourist-infested festival showcases the province’s beauty, religion, and art. Celebrated for centuries during Holy Week, the festival boasts colorful masks, lively street performances, and a unique history. It also stands as a testament to the resilience and creativity of the Marinduque spirit.
So, if you’ve been wondering or planning to join this year’s Moriones Festival, this post is for you. In this piece, we’ll explore the fascinating Moriones Festival, its origins, its fascinating masks and costumes, and the unforgettable experiences that await you in Marinduque.
What Is Moriones Festival?
The Moriones Festival is an annual week-long religious and cultural event in Marinduque. The festival is held during Holy Week, which usually falls in March or April.
Rooted in the Catholic faith, the festival honors the life, passion, and death of Jesus Christ. The term “Moriones” refers to the Roman soldiers or “Moryon” in the local language. These soldiers are brought to life during the festival through intricate masks and costumes.
The festival’s theme revolves around Longinus, the Roman centurion who pierced Jesus’ side during the crucifixion. Legend has it that Longinus has one blind eye. However, upon piercing Jesus, a drop of blood fell into his blind eye, miraculously restoring his vision. This experience pushed him to convert to Christianity and, ultimately, granted him martyrdom.
Participants don colorful and sophisticated masks, helmets, and Roman-style armor throughout the celebration. These transform the locals into “Morions.” Then, they reenact biblical events leading to Christ’s crucifixion.
As a result, the streets of Marinduque come alive with live music, parades, and theatrical performances. The event then ends with the dramatic reenactment of Longinus’ capture, conversion, and eventual martyrdom.
In a gist, the Moriones Festival features a unique blend of religious devotion, artistic expression, and history. It has evolved over the years into a cultural and tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the globe who want to witness this spectacular display of Filipino culture.
Moriones Festival Place of Origin
The Moriones Festival has its roots in the agricultural province of Marinduque. You can find Marinduque in the Mimaropa region in Luzon, the largest and most populous island of the Philippines. The province has several smaller surrounding islands with a rich cultural history before the Spanish colonization.
In particular, people believe that the Moriones Festival started in Mogpog, Marinduque, in the early 19th century. Later, it spread to other towns such as Boac, Gasan, and Santa Cruz. Over time, the festival has become more famous, involving numerous towns across the entire province.
Moriones Festival Costume
The Moriones Festival costumes’ most iconic part is the carefully carved and painted wooden masks that depict fierce, wide-eyed expressions with strong facial features, mustaches, and beards. The locals then top the masks with crafted helmets decorated with plumes, feathers, or other decorations.
Aside from this, participants wear maroon or red tunics with gold or silver trimmings. The tunics also feature embroidery and embellishments, making them more beautiful than regular festival costumes. In some cases, the costumes include capes.
Additionally, the soldiers wear several armor pieces, including breastplates, arm guards, and shin guards, to complete the look. These pieces are often made of metal, leather, and other materials. They’re also frequently adorned with ornate patterns or designs.
In most cases, participants use accessories like wooden swords, spears, and shields to add authenticity to their portrayal of Roman soldiers. They might also use belts, gloves, and sandals.
Local craftsmen and artists dedicate their time and skill to maintaining the quality and beauty of Moriones Festival costumes. So if you’re enjoying the costumes, you better thank them for their dedication.
Moriones Festival Description
The Moriones Festival is deeply rooted in the province’s history and cultural identity. As a fusion of religious devotion, local artistry, and community spirit, the festival has grown to become one of the most anticipated events in the region.
The origins of the Moriones Festival can be traced back to the town of Mogpog in Marinduque, where it began in the early 19th century under the influence of Spanish friars. The festival has since expanded to other towns across the province, each adding its unique spin to the celebration.
Local craftsmen showcase their exceptional skills during the festival by creating iconic Morion masks and costumes. These pieces represent not only the Roman soldiers but also the creative talents and craftsmanship of the people of Marinduque. The masks are typically hand-carved from wood or crafted from paper-mâché and then meticulously painted to depict vivid expressions and emotions.
The Moriones Festival also serves as a platform for strengthening community ties. Residents and visitors participate in various activities, such as communal feasts, sports events, and charity drives. These shared experiences foster a sense of unity and camaraderie among the locals.
Moreover, the Moriones Festival has become an economic boon for the province. As the event happens each year, it helps the local economy by creating opportunities for small businesses and supporting the local population’s livelihoods.
In summary, the Moriones Festival is a multifaceted event that transcends its religious roots, encompassing Marinduque’s history, artistry, community spirit, and economic prosperity. Through this celebration, the province’s people pay homage to their faith while nurturing their rich cultural heritage and promoting social cohesion.
When Is Moriones Festival Celebrated?
The Moriones Festival is celebrated during Holy Week, which typically falls between March and April, depending on the calendar. Holy Week precedes Easter Sunday and includes important Christian traditions like Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
The Moriones Festival lasts the entire week, with many events like processions and reenactments occurring daily. The week culminates in masses and processions from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
Delicacies to Try During the Moriones Festival in Marinduque
Joining the Moriones Festival means you must try the delicacies, too. Here are the delicacies you must try while in Marinduque:
As its name suggests, arrowroot cookies, locally known as uraro, come from arrowroot flour. The flour comes from the underground stems of the arrowroot plant (Maranta arundinacea).
Filipinos plant arrowroot all over Marinduque and other parts of the Philippines for its starch, which they extract and process to make arrowroot flour.
Locals love uraro cookies for their distinct powdery and crumbly texture. These cookies melt in the mouth, with a mildly sweet taste. In addition, cooks mold them into many shapes, like flowers or stars.
The cookies include arrowroot flour, sugar, butter, or margarine. In some cases, cooks use regular milk or coconut milk. They then form the dough into whatever shape they want and place it on a baking sheet. Next, they bake the cookies until they become slightly golden.
If you’ve attended Christmas masses in the Philippines, you likely know bibingka.
Made from glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar, Filipinos love bibingka. So, if you love regular bibingka, you must try Marinduque’s version.
Like the regular one, locals cook Marinduque’s bibingka in banana leaves, giving it a unique aroma and taste. However, Marinduque’s bibingka uses galapong instead of regular flour. The cooking method is also different since locals cook bibingka in a clay pot over an open fire.
3. Pancit Marinduque
This dish is a local variation of the popular Filipino noodle dish. Pancit, in general, has been a staple in Filipino cuisine for decades, so Marinduque has its version.
Pancit Marinduque includes miki noodles (fresh, egg-based noodles). Locals cook the noodles with meat (usually chicken, pork, or a mix of both), vegetables, and seasonings. They make the dish special by adding carrots, cabbage, and green beans. These vegetables also add colors and flavors to the dish.
Locals then add soy sauce, oyster sauce, or fish sauce, and garnish the pancit with fresh green onions and calamansi, a local citrus fruit, which gives it a tangy hint. This hearty and yummy version of pancit also serves as a comfort food for the people of Marinduque and a representation of their culinary heritage.
Made with glutinous rice, coconut milk, and sugar, panganan came from Marinduque. Locals make this sweet and sticky treat by cooking soaked glutinous rice with coconut milk and sugar until it reaches a thick consistency. They then transfer the mixture to a dish lined with banana leaves, which gives the treat a unique aroma and flavor.
Once cooled and set, cooks cut it into squares or rectangles. They often enjoy it as a dessert or snack and prepare it for special occasions or family gatherings.
5. Adobo sa Gata
A creamy version of the classic Filipino adobo, this dish from Marinduque uses coconut milk (gata).
The traditional adobo has a savory flavor profile achieved through a mix of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices. On the other hand, adobo sa gata has a rich and luscious taste, thanks to coconut milk.
The main ingredients for adobo sa gata include chicken, pork, or seafood marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaves. After marinating, cooks sear the meat in a hot pan to lock in the flavors. Next, they simmer the meat with the marinade until it becomes tender.
After this, they add coconut milk, which infuses the dish with a creamy and velvety hint. In some cases, locals add chili peppers, either whole or chopped, to give the dish a spicy kick.
Made from the grated meat of santol fruit, sinantol features a unique blend for your taste buds. Locals cook it with coconut milk, shrimp paste, chili, and spices. As a result, sinantol offers you a blend of flavors― sweet, sour, and spicy. Locals usually serve it with steamed rice, making the dish filling.
Filipino tamales feature ground rice, coconut milk, and various fillings such as chicken, pork, or shrimp. Unlike the Mexican version, locals wrap the filling in banana leaves and steam it until cooked. You can enjoy tamales as a snack or light meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Moriones Festival is celebrated to honor Jesus and reenact the story of Longinus, whose one blind eye got miraculously cured after he speared Jesus’ side. This led to his conversion and martyrdom.
The Moriones Festival originated in the province of Marinduque in 1807. It was started by its then Parish Priest, Father Dionisio Santiago.
It is called Moriones Festival because of the “Moriones” or “Moryon” the Roman soldiers brought to life during the festival. The Moriones wear intricate masks and costumes during the week-long event.
Here’s the history of Moriones: the festival started in 1807 to commemorate the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It also retells the story of Longinus, the Roman centurion who pierced Jesus on the side but was miraculously healed when a drop of Christ’s blood fell on his blind eye.
Prepare for the most fantastic time at the Moriones Festival in Marinduque, Philippines!
During Holy Week, the province comes alive each year with fantastic costumes, masks, and thrilling performances that’ll dot your eyes with stars. People worldwide join the locals to celebrate their love for culture, religion, and delicious food.
So, what are you waiting for? Book that ticket and pack those bags to enjoy this exciting festival.
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