ONGOING in the Southern Tagalog province of Marinduque is the world-renowned Moriones Festival. The crowd-drawer every Holy Week, Moriones Festival tells the story of Lent, as it traces the story of Longinus, the Roman soldier who’s blind on one eye. He pierced the side of the crucified Jesus Christ, and when a spurt of Jesus’ blood hit his blind eye, Longinus was suddenly able to see. The miracle converted him, and he went around shouting that Jesus was Lord. The Moriones Festival is about the search of the centurions for Longinus, who, when caught, was beheaded, but he died professing his faith in Jesus Christ.
Able-bodied local men therefore wore centurion costumes for the entire duration of the Moriones Festival with headgear made of wood and fiberglass to simulate the centurions or Roman soldiers in Jesus’ time. They go about town “looking for Longinus,” as the script of the Moriones Festival goes. Mini street parades take place, as well as Via Crucis or the reenactment of the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in street theater fashion.
In the afternoon of Holy Wednesday and Good Friday, major religious processions take place, with prominent families in the six towns of Marinduque showcasing their larger-than-life religious images in carosas. Holding lit candles to “light the way,” people follow each religious images. Morions, garbed in their armors and capes and beautifully crafted masks, take active part in the processions.
On Black Saturday comes the pugutan, or beheading of Longinus. While the end may appear to be morbid, it actually signifies the triumph of faith, with a sinner of a Roman soldier like Longinus turning his back on his sinful ways and being converted in faith to the point that he was willing to die professing his faith.
Come Easter Sunday, the day Jesus Christ came back to life, the reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection takes place in an outdoor theater at the town plaza as the highlight of the Moriones Festival.