The Moriones Festival is a folk-religious event held annually during Holy Week on the island of Marinduque, considered the geographical heart of the Philippines.
The word “Morion” refers to the visor of the helmet that is associated with the armor of Roman soliders. The word “Moriones” refers to the local inhabitants who dress up in costumes and masks of Roman soldiers during Biblical times. These costumed locals are farmers and fishermen who engage in the street theater as a form of penitence.
For seven days, from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday, the masked and costumed Moriones march around town scaring children and making a ruckus in a reenactment of the search for Longinus, the Roman centurion who pierced the side of the crucified Christ.
In the Bible, Longinus was blind in one eye, but the blood that spurted out of Christ’s side reached his eye and fully restored his sight. The miracle converted Longinus to Christianity, but he was scorned by his fellow centurions who ended up murdering him.
The locals’ reenactment of the Biblical story climaxes on Easter Sunday, when Longinus is beheaded.
Marinduque is a heart-shaped island surrounded by islets. It is part of the MIMAROPA regional group of island-provinces (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), a tourist destination south of Luzon.