Moriones canceled as pandemic rages | Inquirer News

Moriones canceled as pandemic rages


MASKED MEN For the first time since World War II, Marinduque will not stage the Moriones during Holy Week this month as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. —RICHARD A. REYES

BOAC, Marinduque, Philippines — Months ahead of this year’s Holy Week, Mark Montevirgen already had his new set of Morion costume ready. He had ordered a mask with a custom-made body armor of an ancient Roman soldier for the Lenten parade in Marinduque province.

But Montevirgen was caught in the lockdown that prevented him from going home to Boac, the provincial capital.


So far, with four cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Marinduque had shut its door to tourists and even returning residents since the “enhanced community quarantine” in Luzon was imposed last month.


On Wednesday, the provincial government decided to cancel the popular religious tradition to prevent the spread of the virus on the island.

First time since war

The streets of Boac, normally busy with foreign visitors at this time of the year, are now quiet and empty. Houses are shut and lodging facilities unoccupied.

It was the first time, except during World War II, that there would be no Moriones, an ancient rite that dates back to 1807 and a major tourist come-on of the island, said provincial tourism chief Gerry Jamilla.

“We were actually thinking maybe we could still allow people to parade individually—wear your costume, walk outside your house, then go back home,” Jamilla said.

“But we thought that might only encourage people to congregate,” he added.

Randolf Olympia from Boac also felt sad about missing Moriones, which he and many others considered a vow or a way of penitence.


Moriones is observed across six towns of Marinduque by wearing a Roman soldier’s headgear during the procession. Its highlight is the “pugutan,” or the reenactment of the beheading of Longinus, the Roman soldier who speared the side of Christ, held on Easter Sunday.Beyond rites

“A lot of Morions are asking me about it. I just said maybe there are other ways to keep our vow,” said Montevirgen, who is also a leader of Kapatirang Morion ng Marinduque para kay Kristo.

The Catholic Church supported the government’s call to cancel the Moriones. Boac Bishop Marcelino Antonio Maralit Jr. said one’s devotion “goes beyond the rites.”

But Maralit said Lenten Masses would push through and would be streamed live on the internet, as well as on local television and radio stations, especially for those in remote communities.

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On Palm Sunday, he said, village officials would be given palm fronds “blessed” by the church for distribution to every household.

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TAGS: COVID-19, Morines

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