Holy Week is here and, in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, religious traditions are making a comeback following interruptions caused by the pandemic. Take the famed Moriones Festival on Marinduque island, a lenten festival that takes place every Holy Week.
After the local government closed off the Moriones festival to tourists and pilgrims in 2020 and 2021, they are once again welcoming visitors who wish to witness the festival’s famed street theatrics.
Marinduque-based photographer Nicko Yan took snaps of masked and costumed individuals dressed in Roman garb, typically locals who participate in the tradition as penitence.
Local government outlet Marinduque News shared a video of the community parade that saw men and women dressed up in the trademark Moriones costumes.
The festival — named after the 17th-century Spanish Morion helmet — features men and women dressed in masks and costumes parading through the streets in the guise of biblical Roman soldiers.
The festival re-enacts the story of Saint Longinus, a blind Roman centurion who was said to have pierced Jesus’ side as he was crucified on the cross. The blood that spurted out was said to have reached Longinus’ blind eye, fully restoring his vision.
Moriones participants, masked and dressed as centurions, spend seven days looking for Longinus as they scare children throughout the town or draw crowds with their antics. The story ends when the centurions capture Longinus and behead him for converting to Christianity.
The people of Marinduque have been practicing this tradition since 1880.