Santacruzan is a religious-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns and even small villages throughout the Philippines during the month of May. This custom and celebration started after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and after the publication circa 1867 of Mariano Sevilla’s translation of the devotional Flores de Maria or Flowers of Mary. Since May is also the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the celebration is also known as Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May). The festivity commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine the Great. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Rome, there was joyful celebration for thanksgiving.
Nine days of prayer (a novena) in honor of the Holy Cross precedes the Santacruzan or Flores de Mayo. Introduced by the Spaniards, this festival has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love and romance. Beautiful town belles are selected to participate in this colorful pageant parade representing various historical-religious figures. The stars are selected not for their looks alone, but for their embodiment of traditional feminine qualities. It honors beautiful Philippine maidens and their handsome escorts under the hand-carried bamboo arches adorned by fragrant native flowers.
Leading the procession is a group of Aetas, an aboriginal group in central Philippines. These unconverted Filipino pagans represent the state of the country before the coming of Christianity.
Following the Ati-Atihan dancers are various characters representing historical and religious personages.
SANTACRUZAN PAGEANT (Character Roles)
- Methuselah – he is bearded, bent with age, riding a cart looking preoccupied with toasting some grains of sand in a pan over a fire. This is a reminder that all that glitters will end up as dust like what he is toasting.
- Reyna Banderada – a young lady dressed in a long red gown carrying a yellow triangular flag. She represents the coming of Christianity.
- Aetas – represent the state of the country before the coming of Christianity. These are the unconverted Filipino pagans.
- Reyna Mora – represents the dominant religion before Christianity (feminine of Moro from the Moslem religion).
- Reyna Fe – symbolizes the virtue of faith – the first of the theological virtues. She carries a cross.
- Reyna Esperanza – symbolizes the virtue of hope – the second theological virtue. She carries an anchor.
- Reyna Caridad – symbolizes the virtue of charity – the third theological virtue. She carries a red heart.
- Reyna Abogada – the defender of the poor and the oppressed. She wears a black graduation cap (toga) and gown and she carries a big book.
- Reyna Sentenciada – has her slim hands bound by a rope. She is the symbol of the innocents who have been convicted. She is accompanied by two Roman soldiers.
- Reyna Justicia – a personification of the “mirror of justice”. She carries a weighing scale and a sword.
- Reyna Judith – representing Judith of Pethulia who saved her city from the Assyrians after she beheaded the cruel holoferns. She carries the head of the beheaded man on one hand and a sword on the other.
- Reyna Sheba – who visited the famed King Solomon and was overwhelmed by his wisdom, power and richess. She carries a jewelry box.
- Reyna Esther – the biblical Jewish who spared her countrymen from death and destruction through timely intervention with the King Xerxes. She carries a scepter.
- Samaritana – the woman who Christ spoke to at the well. She carries a jug on her shoulder.
- Veronica – the woman who wiped the face of Jesus. She carries a bandana imprinted with the three faces of Jesus.
- Tres Marias: Mary of Magdala – she carries a bottle of perfume; Mary, Mother of Christ – she carries a handkerchief; Mary, mother of James – she carries a bottle of oil.
- Marian – celebrating the many titles of the Virgin Mary.
- A-v-e–M-a-r-i-a — represented by eight (8) girls all Wearing long white dressess with wings to make them look like angels. Each one carries a letter to complete the word “AVE MARIA.”
- Divina pastora (Divine Shepherdess) – she carries a shepherdess’ staff.
- Reyna de las Estrellas (Queen of Stars) – she carries a wand with a star.
- Rosa Mystica – she carries a bouquet of roses.
- Reyna Paz (queen of peace) – she carries the symbol of peace.
- Reyna de las Propetas – she carries a hour glass.
- Reyna del Cielo (Queen of Heaven) – she carries a flower. She has two (2) angels.
- Reyna de las Virgines – she carries a rosary and is surrounded by two (2) little angels.
- Reyna de las Flores (Queen of Flowers) – she carries a bouquet of flowers.
18. Reyna Elena (Queen Helena) – the legendary founder of the true Cross, represented by the small cross