Marinduque: Beyond the moryon
(The Philippine Star) - March 15, 2020 - 12:00am

Marinduque is known for the traditional Moriones Festival every Holy Week which features iconic wooden moryon masks and regalia of the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus Christ.

While this image has stuck with this magical island for generations, it virtually unmasked itself to reveal its other hidden wonders during its recent centennial provincial founding anniversary.

According to Gov. Presbitero Velasco, the province put its best foot forward by showcasing its rich cultural heritage, natural gems and the emerging tourism industry offering diverse attractions.

The colorful parade of moryons (above), men dressed in Roman soldier regalia.

He also unveiled its business potentials, most notable of which is the creation of a special economic zone in Sta. Cruz to attract investors, manufacturing industries and tourism developers, and transform Balogo into an international port.


Highlights of the centenary festivity were the unveiling of the Important Cultural Property (ICP) plaque bestowed by the National Museum of the Philippines to the Boac Cathedral, and the moryon-inspired Centennial Monument obelisk and the Bantayog-Wika at the provincial capitol complex in Boac.

The locus of the celebration was the Araw ng Marinduque which featured a parade of floats depicting historic events of the province and the cultural heritage of the six towns. Street dances of the various municipal festivals were also held. 

The iconic moryons reenacted the “Pugutan” or beheading of mythical centurion Longinus who testified to Christ’s resurrection, the climactic chapter of the Moriones Festival passion play. 

Capping the festivity was the gala night where outstanding locals from various fields of endeavor and former governors were recognized, and the launch of the Marinduque Centennial personalized stamp.  

The centennial parade had floats depicting the history and culture of the province.

Velasco said that aside from the crowd-drawing Moriones, the province takes pride in its blend of nature, adventure and culture which make it a consummate destination. 

Dubbed as “the heartland of the Philippines,” Marinduque is considered the archipelago’s geodetic center as mapped by American engineers through the Luzon Datum of 1911. This hilltop marker at the port town of Mogpog can be ascended through a 460-step staircase with the 14 Stations of the Cross, winding up at a view-deck with the statue of Our Lady of Piat overlooking the sea and rolling hills. 

The kalutang ensemble uses wooden instruments.

The province is dotted with powdery beaches, among them Tres Reyes Islands in Buenavista, with some parts ideal for scuba diving.

The most sought-after beaches are the islands of Polo, Mompong and Maniwaya, where the Palad sandbar appears during low tide. 

Poctoy Beach in Torrijos has a long stretch of fine sand and an underwater museum of moryon monuments for scuba divers. The coastal area is also host to the newly-opened Amara Resort and Beach Villas, a small luxe concept hotel incorporating indigenous architectural and design motifs. 

Marinduque will also embark on a comprehensive marine ecosystem project under the Shore It Up corporate social responsibility program of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., anchored on the formation of volunteer Marine Guardians who will help secure the aquatic resources of the province. 

Mel Cortez

On the cultural front, it is noted for the putong welcome ritual where guests are crowned with song and dance by the townsfolk, as well as the kalutang ensemble which uses pieces of wood as musical instruments.

Go back in time at the well-preserved colonial-era houses, many of which have been given a new lease in life as commercial establishments. A notable stop is Casa de Don Emilio, a casual dining restaurant in Boac which provides a glimpse of the genteel circa-1900s way of life. 

The Palad sandbar appears during low tide.

A source of pride are the battles of Paye in Boac and Pulang Lupa in Torrijos where freedom fighters defeated American troops in 1900 during the Filipino-American War and are immortalized in historical markers.

Rich marine life at the Tres Reyes dive spot (left).

 Other tourist magnets include a series of caves and waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries, therapeutic hot springs, the 1,157-meter Mt. Malindig and butterfly gardens which attest to Marinduque’s rich biodiversity and have made it the country’s butterfly capital.

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