ICHCAP ICH Video Documentary Series #5: The Moriones Festival and Traditional Mask Making Techniques in the Philippines

A Procession of Carrying the Statue of Jesus at the Moriones Festival © ICHCAP

The Moriones Festival is a Lenten tradition held annually on the holy week on the island of Marinduque, Philippines. In the 16th century, Spanish missionaries brought the Roman Catholic faith to the Philippines, and since then, Christian beliefs, rituals, practices, and various related cultures have been absorbed into the Filipino culture throughout the various island regions. Catholics participate in the Moriones Festival in honor of the Passion of the Christ, asking God for mercy with their hearts and praying for their family’s well-being and prosperity.

One of the most eye-catching elements of this festival is a mask in the form of the faces of Roman military commanders or soldiers in the Bible. During the festival, people wear these masks and parade through the streets dressed as soldiers. Mask makers start making masks by taking pre-orders from November, four months before the festival. Delicately sculpting wood to express detailed features requires considerable skill, creativity, and artistry of the artisan. In the past, the mask was made in a large, crude form that covered the entire head, but as time went on, the size decreased and various flower decorations were added on to the head. In the early days of the Moriones procession, the majority of participants were local adult males. Today, it is an event in which the entire community participates, and men and women of all ages wear masks and participate in the festival.

1. Moryonan Lenten Tradition

2. Mask Making for Moryonan Lenten Tradition

This Moriones Festival of the Philippines video is one of the 10 ICH video Documentary Series, which is the result of the collaborative project between ICHCAP and National Commission for Culture and the Arts(NCCA) in the Philippines. Both organizations aim to raise visibility and strengthen the public’s access to ICH in the Philippines through this project.

Videos represent the most accurate method of capturing ICH as it exists in the real world, as well as being effective tools for communicating with the public. ICHCAP will endeavor to continue vividly documenting the scenes of ICH that are hidden across the Asia-Pacific region with the aim of raising the profile of ICH elements as treasures of humanity and introducing them to the public.

Please refer to the brochure for more information on the Philippines ICH video documentary.