Catholic fervour in the Philippines drag hundreds of thousand of visitors to the country every year as colourful processions, giant masses and the pabasa or marathon chanting of the Pasyon, which replays the the Filipino narration of Christ’s life and death. Some of the events can be dramatic in its setting.
In many provinces where the Way of the Cross is reenacted by local players including (real) flagellation and even nail crucifixion. Dozens of penitents around the country, imitating the suffering of Christ, have real nails hammered into their palms and feet. Others drag heavy crosses or crawl on bloodied hands and knees in cities and towns on Good Friday. The Catholic church but also health authorities and the State have many times condemned the cruelty of such a performance, vainly.
Origin to the impressive and gruesome procession comes from San Fernando in Pampanga province. The version of the Passion of the Christ was written by a local playwright in the 1950s, which led to the first crucifixion in 1962.
Themost visually striking religious festival to Easter in the Philippines and a real must-do is however the Moriones Festival. which takes place in Marinduque during the entire Holy Week. On Easter Sunday, the entire city reenacts Jesus Christ way to the cross in a carnival-like atmosphere with players dressed in Roman centurions wearing large, colourful hand-painted masks carved out of wood. The name Moriones comes from the Spanish term “Morion” which means helmet.
Morions represent Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind in one eye. Characters roam the streets in town from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday scaring the kids, or engaging in performances. The festival remains one of the highlights among popular events in the country.
Marinduque province is only 40 minutes by flight from Manila and has a small population of 250,000 inhabitants. Tourist arrivals per year reach approximately 110,000 visitors per year.
All pictures from Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News