The Filipinos love fiestas. It is celebrated all-year round especially in the summer month of the year May is the merriest and the most beautiful month of the year. In fact the word May was taken from the name of Maia, the Roman goddess of spring and growth. It is the season of colorful festivals, Flores de Mayo or the Santa Cruzan is one such festival.
Six years ago, I was pushed by some friends in our Barangay to organize such activity. I never had experience to this kind of activity and in fact many do not know me in our Barangay. They really insisted me to start the activity so I asked for their help and start organizing. It was really fun and it is hard to start without Money. So we asked some financial help to the participant and to some politicians as well as to our neighborhoods. And it was a success.
Santa Cruzan is held annually in the warm month of May and is considered the “Queen of Filipino Festivals.” Beautiful lady in town or cities are selected to participate in this colorful parade. They are selected not for their looks, but for the embodiment of traditional feminine qualities.
The festivity is a novena procession commemorating the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena (Reina Elena) and her son the newly converted emperor Constantine. The procession differs from traditional religious procession in that it does not parade the usual images of patron saints. Instead, the local people dressed in colorful costumes represent biblical and historical characters.
Nine days of prayer in honor of the holy cross precede the Flores de Mayo or Santa Cruzan. On the ninth night, the procession is long and colorful. Bamboo clappers herald the procession led by beard Methuselah, bent with age, riding a cart where he is toasting grains of sand in a pan over a fire. Behind him walks the Banderada, a lady in Red carrying a miniature of Philippines flag, symbolizing the Christian army. Next followed half-clad boys, their bodies were blackened with soot, representing the aborigines of the Filipino pagans and finally Reina Mora in Muslim costumes representing Muslim Filipinos. The procession is followed of rondalla or choirs playing or singing “Dios de Salve”. The devotee’s walked with the procession hold lighted candle and sings the prayer.
During old times the Santa Cruzan to be more exciting, the chosen Reina Elena is kept secret until the day of the parade.
Despite its Spanish or Mexican origin the Santa Cruzan has native roots in ancient local rituals and religious practices. It is celebrated gracefully and faithfully.
So, let’s enjoy and preserved what was once a grand tradition handed down to us by our ancestors and make it live by celebrating it.