by Lyndon Plantilla
Due to its festive mood, colorful costumes and dramatics, people have been calling Moriones in Marinduque a ‘festival’.
But this labelling is being rejected by some church leaders and even government officials.
In an interview over “Mimaropa Ngayon,” (a radio program of Radyo Pilipinas – Manila aired every Saturday) Father Christian San Juan of the Boac Cathedral clarified that Moriones is a Lenten rite and not a festival because of its spiritual dimension, way to conversion and spiritual enhancement.
The Moriones (morions) are synonymous with Marinduque.
Whenever Marinduque is invited to a trade fair or travelling exhibit, its booth is posted with masked men in Roman soldier costumes most of the time.
Moriones (derived from the word morion, military head gear for the Romans and Spanish) also take part in the opening of special events like the Mimaropa Regional Athletics Association hosted by the province some years back.
Vacationers would come to Marinduque on Semana Santa (Holy Week among Christians) to enjoy sun and sand as well as watch Moriones perform the weeklong street dramatization of the life and passion of Jesus Christ and the conversion of Longinus, the blind Roman soldier.
Longinus is the centurion who pierced the side of Christ with his spear. Blood spattering from Christ fell on Longinus’ blind eye and restored its sight. The curing of Longinus’ blindness is celebrated in extended story of Via Crucis every Good Friday.
Moriones ends on Easter Sundays with the chasing, capture and mock-beheading of Longinus who have been proclaiming his miracle.
As an act of penance started by a priest named Fr. Dionisio Santiago in 1807 in Mogpog town, Father Christian said Moriones help people make atonements for their sins.
Joining Moriones, said Fr. Christian, is either an expression of gratitude for blessings received or a vow in exchange for requests or favors asked from God.
Even the Provincial Government is serious with its local Lenten rites. An executive order (EO No. 4 Series of 2018) was issued to encourage government employees to wear caftan or Samaritan clothes on Ash Wednesday and throughout the Holy Week.
The Provincial government, through Governor Carmencita Reyes, initiated two pilgrimage walks (parade of government employees in biblical or Morion costumes held last Maundy Monday and Holy Wednesday) as part of the observation of Lent.
Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices also set up Incident Command Posts in all municipalities to monitor Moriones Lenten rites as well as ensure public safety throughout the Holy Week.
Fr. Christian is hoping vacationers would find the Moriones and other Lenten activities of Marinduque helpful in the renewal of their faith. (LP/Mimaropa)