April 17, Holy Wednesday
The provincial capital of Boac stages the grandest productions of the nightly senakulo (Easter pageant) on the island, retelling important episodes from the Bible.
April 18, Maundy Thursday
Holy Mass is celebrated across all the towns in the late afternoon, accompanied by a reenactment of Jesus washing the feet of the Twelve Apostles. Later in the evening, the senakulo portrays the Last Supper.
April 19, Good Friday
Religious events peak on Good Friday. In the early morning, antipos (male flagellants) gather at Boac Catholic Cemetery for a tradition that depicts ritual atonement. By mid-morning, the via crucis (a reenactment of Jesus’ final hours) is performed in the narrow streets of Boac. Moriones (masked penitents) portray ruthless Roman soldiers.
Filipino Catholicism also incorporates indigenous practices. Throughout the island, village healers brew tawak, a bitter herbal beverage that’s believed to protect drinkers from venomous bites. Religious processions begin before sundown and the most interesting one takes place in Gasan. Hooded men carrying pataraka (bamboo clappers) are followed by barefoot female devotees garbed in black and wearing pupuwa (headdresses of leaves that are symbols of penance).
April 20, Black Saturday
The senakulo climaxes with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, followed by the Saint Longinus. A key figure in the Lenten rites of Marinduque, he was the Roman who converted to Christianity after his blind eye was healed by Jesus’ blood.
April 21, Easter Sunday
Before sunrise, Boac’s townsfolk gather for a predawn procession that commemorates the encounter of the resurrected Jesus Christ and his mother. Later in the morning, the moryong bulaklakan (penitents in traditional, flower-decorated masks) march the streets of Mogpog town, where pugutan originated in the 1880s. The parade culminates with a folk version of the tradition, where children search for the doomed Saint Longinus.
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How to get there
Cebu Pacific Air now flies directly from Marinduque. cebupacificair.com
This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of Smile magazine.