Held during the Holy Week on the island of Marinduque, the Moriones Festival is a colorful festival that celebrates the Passion of the Christ. Its most striking feature are the morion masks that participants wear throughout the weeklong celebration as they pretend to be Roman centurions.
There are multiple ways to get to Marinduque for the Moriones Festival. If you’re coming from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport or anywhere in Metro Manila, head to the Jac Liner Terminal in either Buendia or Cubao. Board a bus headed to Marinduque from either station and enjoy the journey.
Another option would be to take a bus to Lucena and then a jeep to Dalahican Port. Take a RORO (roll-on-roll-off) or fast craft to Balanacan Port. From the port, you can take a jeep to Marinduque’s different municipalities.
Lastly, you can take a bus to the Batangas Port and take a boat to Calapan Pier in Mindoro. From there, head to the Pinamalayan Port by van and tricycle and take a large boat to Gasan, Marinduque.
Once in Marinduque, you can get around either by tricycle, jeepney, or FX. If you don’t have a set itinerary, it’s best to negotiate a cheaper price with tricycle drivers. Traffic and mobile signals won’t be a problem. However, WiFi can get spotty at times.
From Holy Monday to Easter Sunday, the morions make the towns of Boac, Gasan, Santa Cruz, Buenavista, and Mogpog their stage. Expect to see these colorful characters roaming around scaring children and trying to catch the attention of people.
While all of this is happening, pabasas are held in various households or at the town center. As the week progresses, communities re-enact the Via Crusis, with the men either flagellating themselves or carrying around a cross. On Easter Sunday, the Pugutan is staged. The Pugutan is a dramatization of the life of Saint Longinus, whose one blind eye was healed by blood from the side of Jesus.
Marinduque is a small province, so don’t expect restaurants like the ones in Metro Manila. Goodchow Food Express has a number of branches in Marinduque. If you’re in Boac, the Kusina sa Plaza is housed in a preserved Spanish house and serves Marinduque delicacies. Another Marinduque delicacy, the bibingkang lalaki, is sold at the Boac Market. In Santa Cruz, travelers can eat bibingkang pinahiran.
If you’re arriving early or plan to stay on the island a little longer, there are a number of other destinations you can check out in Marinduque. If you’re the type to bring pasalubong for everyone, Mogpog has beautiful narra furniture like sala sets, beds, and cabinets. Meanwhile, Torrijos has beautiful woven placemats and table runners.
Torrijos is also home to Poctoy Beach, which has grainy, whitish sand and clear blue waters. Another seaside location to visit is Santa Cruz’ Maniwaya Island and Palad Sandbar. If you’re looking for more imposing and awe-inspiring locations, Santa Cruz is also home to the Ungab Rock Formation, which would be a perfect addition to your Instagram feed.
While in Marinduque, island-hopping, spelunking, or kayaking are just some of the activities you can do.
Book an island-hopping trip to the Tres Reyes Islands and get the chance to snorkel, sunbathe, and swim. Named after the Three Kings Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar, each island is perfect for specific activities. Gaspar has a beach for swimming, Melchor has distinct rock formations perfect for Instagram, while Baltazar is ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Visitors can also go spelunking at the Bagumbungan Cave, which is 1.9 kilometers long and home to beautiful rock formations. Meanwhile, the Isla del Carmen Ecopark has kayaks, a zip line, and mangrove forest.
If you’ve had your fill of Marinduque, the island of Mindoro is nearby — you can literally see it from the shore of Gasan. You can take a boat from Gasan to Mindoro, and from there you can explore the island’s offerings, such as Puerto Galera, Sablayan, and Abra de Ilog.
The Holy Week happens during the hot Philippine summer, so be sure to wear clothing that breathes. Comfortable shoes and even slippers are recommended. Alway keep your phone and camera charges as this is a weeklong celebration, and you may want to take as many photos as you can of the colorful costumes.
Every April, Dagupan City honors its rich milkfish industry by celebrating the Bangus Festival.