Moriones Festival

Moriones Festival

Begins between March 15 and April 18; Holy Week
One of the more popular and colorful of the many Passion plays—folk dramas that retell the story of Jesus' arrest, trial, and crucifixion—is performed before Easter in the Philippines. Held on the island-province of Marinduque with participants wearing masks and costumes of Roman soldiers, Moriones tells the story of the legendary Roman soldier, Longinus, who is said to have been blind in one eye. As he pierced the side of the crucified Jesus, a drop of the blood cured his blindness. The first thing he saw with both eyes was Christ's passage to heaven. According to the legend Longinus announced this good news. The Roman warriors, however, wanted to stop this report and captured him.
Many local men take part in the Marinduque play, performing the roles of Roman soldiers. They wear large wooden masks covered with black beards and painted with enormous black eyes, open mouths, and pink flesh. The masks disguise their identities, as their participation serves as an act of humble religious devotion rather than an attempt to garner public recognition. Longinus escapes from the Roman soldiers three times in the Marinduque Passion play, but cannot evade capture on the fourth attempt. The Roman soldiers lead Longinus to a scaffold, but he continues to declare his faith in Christ. The Moriones cut his head off and carry it through town, while bringing his body along on a stretcher.
CONTACTS:
Philippines Department of Tourism
556 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10036
212-575-7915; fax: 212-302-6759
www.tourism.gov.ph
SOURCES:
EncyEaster-2002, p. 491
FestWrld: Phil-1999, p. 12
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 152
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 289
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