The island of Marinduque has long been known for its Moriones Festival. It is one of the oldest lenten rites in the Philippines where participants wear Moryon (helmet) masks and roam the streets of Marinduque as an act of penitence. During my recent visit to Marinduque, we visited the workshop of one of the known Morion mask makers on the island, Salvador “Buddy” Liwanagan. It was fascinating to witness firsthand how these iconic masks with grimacing Roman faces are made.
The Siete Palabras was our main reason for visiting Angeles City in Central Luzon on a Good Friday, but of course there is more to observe on the city’s lenten rites. We got there before noon and actually liked the festive mood the crowd seems to have and the number of stalls and vendors around the area. That is until a parade of flagellants came marching through with with their blood soaked backs yet incessantly self-whipping, seemed numb from the self-inflicted pain. It’s actually a first for me to witness such practice up close and didn’t expect I would enter a melancholy world of self flagellation.
I could hear the hoofs of horses among the ambient noise from the gathering crowd as we approach the stage where the performance would start. A few people garbed in Roman Soldier Armors on horses and a few more in clothes in the time of Jesus were already at the venue. Under the scorching heat of the noon time sun, the spectators were already eager to get the program started. It’s the Siete Palabras at Barangay Lourdes North West (LNW), Angeles City Pampanga. A street theater re-enactment of the Seven Last Words by 70 volunteer performers in the barangay.