The Moriones Festival is celebrated every Holy Week by Roman Catholics in the province of Marindque. Just like many festivals in the Philippines, the Moriones Festival is a colorful celebration that centers on the costumes and masks worn by penitents who march around the towns of the province as Roman soldiers.
The festival got its name from the Morion helment worn by Spanish soldiers of the 16th and 17th centuries. The men and women wearing the helmet are then called Moriones.
The Moriones mask is usually made of wood carved with the face of a Roman soldier. Attached to the mask is the actual helmet with a crest made of feathers or horse hair.
The Moriones penitents are the central characters of the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) tradition in the capital town of Boac. Following the Senakulo of Maundy Thursday, the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ continues the following day, Good Friday.
At exctly 10:00am, The Moriones will gather at the Moriones Arena awaiting the character of Jesus Christ to be sentenced by Pontius Pilate to crucifixion.
Also presented before the spectators are the characters of Gestas and Dismas, the two thieves who were crucified together with Jesus Christ.
From the Moriones Arena, the characters of the Via Crucis will take the streets of Boac as their stage. The character of Jesus Christ will carry his cross while the Moriones alternately whip him.
The characters playing the role of Jesus Christ and the Roman soldiers are all penitents who participate in the annual Moriones Festival. Brave the summer heat of the sun for hours is their act of penance in the hopes of having their sins forgiven.
Following the Via Crucis are more Moriones wearing costumes and masks of various designs. The Via Crucis will end at the Moriones Arena with the crucifixion of the Jesus Christ character.
We didn't get to finish the Via Crucis as it was really hot that noontime. We really admire the devotion of the penitents to this lenten tradition. Every Filipino Roman Catholic should indeed witness the Moriones Festival at least once in their lifetime.