Holy Week: The Moriones Festival

I spent the past week exploring a tiny portion of the amazing Philippines and out of the many wonderful experiences I had, I would like to share one unique one with you: The Moriones Festival.

Being one of the only (predominately) Catholic countries in Asia, The Philippines goes all out for Easter. One place that exceeds all in bloody devotion is the town of San Fernando, located about an hour and a half from the capital Manila. On Good Friday, the 19th of April 2014 I encountered the Moriones.

The event greeted me with a splatter of blood to my leg. Masked men with wooden whips flagellate themselves as they march towards the focal point of the day: the place of the crucifixion. They walk for miles in the burning sun with bloody backs.

Close family or friends even flog the devotees with some form of wooden object.

We followed the route of the Moriones until we reached the place of the crucifixion; three tall wooden crosses stood tall on a hill and we battled our way through the crowds for a view of the reenactment.

The crucifixion is reenacted using the Virgin Mary, soldiers and Jesus himself, several characters play Jesus. The devotees who pose as Jesus are nailed to the cross by their hands. Ruben Enaje has carried out the role of Jesus twenty eight times…yes he has been nailed to the cross twenty eight times.

Although not condoned by the Catholic Church, the devotion of the faithful was engraved on their faces. I feel blessed to have witnessed this event, this procession of faith.