Europe,  Oceania

There’s an Easter surprise in the Philippines.

Just south of Luzon on the island of Maranduque there are Roman Catholics who celebrate the death and resurrection with realistic masks and costumes.

Called the Morones Festival, it’s quite a pageant and not something you would expect to see in the South Pacific or anywhere else in Asia. It celebrates the Holy Week Festivities to the fullest with parades, processions and other activities. As in the Spanish Colonial traditions, many of the participants are costumed as Jewish followers of Jesus and the ruling Romans. Morones means army helmet in Spanish.

The Morones Festival was started in 1807 by a Jesuit priest from Mexico. This Mexican folk play re-enacts the martyrdom of the Jewish soldier Longinus. It focuses on the witnessing of the resurrection by Loninus and conversion to Christianity. In the Philippine version they also work in the search of Mary and Joseph for a place to stay on Christmas Eve. The play was introduced to the island of Marinduque where it is popular to this day. Actually the origin goes further back to the old days in Spain where practically every village had its own Holy Week Festival.

Morones helmets look like high quality Mexican masks. The carving of the face and helmet are precise and always beautifully painted. Nowadays you can find them on the Internet. They will make a very special addition to most mask collections.


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