Moriones Festival

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Blessed with a rich cultural and religious heritage, the Philippines celebrates many colourful traditions that are held annually. Apart from the festivals in Manila, there are a variety of other famous celebrations that take place around the country such as the Moriones Festival in Marinduque. 

The Philippine island of Marinduque plays host to this vibrant weeklong event which is held between Holy Monday and Easter Sunday in each of its towns every year. During the festival period, people known as "morions" don masks, dress up as Roman soldiers and carry wooden swords and spears as they roam the streets causing playful mischief. 

The Manila Moriones Festival dates back to the 1800's when a priest wanted to get his parishioners more interested in the religious activities of lent. While the word "morion" means visor or mask, the story behind the festival is tied to the legend of Longinus, a Roman centurion who is believed to have been at the side of Jesus Christ's crucifixion. 

Serious ritual

Part of the ritual is the "Habulan" where those depicting Roman soldiers hunt for a person dressed up as Longinus, whom they pursue in a chaotic chase all over town. There is however, a serious side to the Moriones Festival. Christ's final hours of suffering are commemorated at the part of the festival known as "Via Crucis". At this time it is common to see processions involving men inflicting bodily pain by whipping themselves, while some carry heavy crosses.