Fashion Show – “…The Sta. Cruz de Mayo, or popularly identified as the Santacuzan activity itself, as introduced by Franciscan Missionaries, is a retelling of biblical stories and characters climaxing with the “finding of the True Cross” by the Empress Helena and her son Constantine I, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This Novena procession is normally held at the end of May. In the past, the Santa Cruz de Mayo participants were encouraged to dress up in biblical costumes and to hold the appropriate symbols of their role in their hands. Sadly, with multiple queens or reinas, the present Santacruzan has become a fashion show, an unfortunate turn of event discouraged by the Church. The Filipino Heritage Festival Inc. (FHFI), in celebration of Heritage Month last May, campaigned for the return of the original practice of the Santacruzan by encouraging people to be aware of its inherent religious significance as well as its cultural value in our nation’s history…” – Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 15 2012 (READ MORE)
Hermana Mayor – “…Namukadkad ang samu’t saring klase ng bulaklak sa loob ng kapitolyo nang inalala ni Governor Vilma Santos Recto ang pagdiriwang ng Flores de Mayo kasama ang mga kawani at opisyales sa pamahalaang panlalawigan ng Batangas. Hangad ni Gov. Vi na muling maiangat ang kultura ng mga Batangueño lalo na at sila ang nagpalaganap ng paggunita ng pista ng mga bulaklak tuwing Mayo. Ang selebrasyong ito ay isang sagradong pagdiriwang ng pagbibigay parangal kay Birheng Maria sa pamamagitan ng paghahandog ng bulaklak sa kanyang taglay na huwarang kalinisan at kabutihan. Noong ika-7 ng Mayo ay pormal na binuksan ang tuklong sa Kapitolyo na hudyat ng pakikiisa ng buong Pamahalaang Panlalawigan sa Flores de Mayo at doon din ay masayang ginampanan ni Gov. Vi ang pagiging Hermana Mayor sa unang araw ng pag-aalay ng bulaklak sa Birheng Maria. Kaugnay dito ay nagtakda ng mga tanggapang magiging abala sa paghehermana hanggang sa ika-30 ng Mayo. Tulad din ng karaniwang parokya, magkakaroon ng isang Grand Santacruzan na magiging culminating event ng Flores de Mayo sa Kapitolyo…” – Mamerta P. De Castro, PIA, May 13 2012 (READ MORE)
True Cross – “…Tradition ascribes the Finding of the True Cross to Emperor Constantine’s mother, a Christian convert. As a token of piety, Helena had churches built, and, at an advanced age of 80, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. At Calvary, she had several excavations made in which 3 crosses were found. To determine the real thing, she had a dying man placed on each cross who recovered upon being touched by the authentic cross. Another story tells of her discovery of 3 nails that shone like gold. Although details of her life are vague and legendary, she was, at one time, considered one of the most important women in the world. The proper Santacruzan not only gives tribute to Mary and the finder of the Jesus’ cross but also gives recognition to characters from both the Old and New Testament. The procession opens with boys holding ciriales, poles topped with a cross and candles. Heading the cast of charcaters is the ancient Matusalem, followed by 2 Reina Banderadas, flagbearers of the Philippine and papal standards. Toddlers carrying placards spelling out AVE MARIA precede the parade of gorgeous sagalas. Three maidens representing the virtues of Fe, Esperanza, Caridad (Faith, Hope and Charity) come next, trailed by the Divina Pastora, with a lamb or goat. More queens make their appearance in this order: Reina Mora (the moorish queen, Reina Saba (Queen of Sheba), Infanta Judith (holding Holofernes’ decapitated head), Reina Sentenciada, Abogada and Reina Justicia. Next in line are more pretty sagalas bearing the symbols of Christ’s passion: 3 dice on a plate, 30 pieces of silver (supot ng Hudas), St. Peter’s rooster (manuk ng San Pedro), the spear, 3 nails, INRI sign and kuronang suksuk. The major beauties of the town follow, starting with Veronica, Maria Magdalena, Maria Salome and Rosa Mistica. The last 3 queens make their grand entrance in this order: The Reina de los Flores holding a bouquet of flowers, Reina Ester, the beloved Jewish Queen of Persia holding a scepter, and finally, framed by a flowered arch, the crowned Reina Elena, a role especially reserved for the town’s loveliest belle, dressed in a magnificent flowing gown with a small crucifix in hand. Walking by her side is Principe Constantino, representing her young son, with a cape, crown and sword. The use of handsome escorts is a fairly modern concept as well as the appearance of multiple Elenas (as in Reina Elena 1, Elena 2, etc). Sometimes too, the Reina Elena is treated separately from an Emperatriz, although both are one and the same. Often lost or ignored in the rear-end of the procession is a figure representing San Macario, the bishop who escorted Helena to Jerusalem…” – Alex R. Castro, Views from Pangpang, Sep 12 2007 (READ MORE)
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