Santacruzan, a religious celebration

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Saturday, May 24, 2014

SANTACRUZAN'S religious version is staged in the churchyard. The most beautiful girl in the town (also popular and talented) is Helena. A handsome boy (scion of a prominent family) plays the role of Constantino.

Helena (in her sparkling saya or Filipiniana gown) would order her soldiers to dig in three mounds on earth. (That’s the start of the drama.) After they find a small cross (the place could be Calvary) in the last mound, the audience (holding a copy of the printed song) will sing hymns of praise as they walk with Helena (this time carrying a small cross) in a procession around the town.

Usually, the Marian devotees are there to give honor to Mary (not to Helena, she is just a character). We would like to picture out that “banderitas”, paper triangles of different colors, are all over the area, even extending up to the streets. There is a brass band playing at the town plaza. The “hermana mayor” is there checking if everything is in place. (After all, she is the chairman of the fiesta.)


Other than the santacruzan characters, the “carroza” of the Virgin Mary is the center of attraction. It is beautifully adorned with sampaguitas (our national flower). Men, women, and children attending the procession carry lighted candles as they walk in two lines. The “sagalas,” girls who are characters of the santacruzan, walk graciously between them. Two handsome boys (usually in Barong Tagalog) carry a wooden or bamboo arch (depending on the budget) decorated with flowers before each “sagala.”

The parish priest, followed by a flock of “sacristan,” leads in the recitation of the holy rosary. Somewhere in the crowd is the group of “manangs” of the parish singing hymns for Mama Mary. Other people watch the procession from their windows (with lighted candles also.) Some form a line along the street to see and to be seen with their new cellphone models. Politicians usually join the procession. (Helena could be the First Lady of the town.)

“Banderada” carries a Philippine flag. She represents Mother Philippines (not Miss Earth). Reina Mora wears a Muslim costume (probably representing the Bangsamoro). The other queens come in this order: Reina Fe, Esperanza, and Caridad to symbolize Faith, Hope and Charity. There is Divina Pastora (Divine Shepherdess) that carries a staff and a lamb (just local not imported from Australia).

Reina Justicia walks blindfolded and brings the scale of justice (but not representing Justice Secretary Leila de Lima). Reina Sentenciada, the Condemned Queen (not Janet Napoles), walk with her hands in chain. Lastly, Reina de las Flores, the Queen of Flowers (not Kris Aquino or Boy Abunda) holds a bouquet of flowers.

Next group for presentation composes the Holy Bible characters: Samaritana, the woman who believed in Christ (like PNoy who believes in Mar) after he spoke to her by the well, carries a jug of water on her shoulder. Judith holds the head of Holofernes, an Assyrian war commander whom she killed to save her people. (I am not comparing to what Miriam Santiago will do to Juan Ponce Enrile.) Esther, who also saved the Jews from being persecuted, follows. (We hope Ping Lacson can follow her for the typhoon victims.)

Reina Elena is at the last of the line with her escort, Principe Constantino. Some organizers opt to have the town’s beauty queen play the role of Elena, while a small son of the mayor (with his wife) stands for Constantino. (Have you noticed that Helena is replaced by Elena? That’s the version that we want to discover.) Reina Elena carries a small cross and behind her follows the “carroza” with the image of Mama Mary. (Just pick your choice. Mama Mary has different images.)

Just like what we always say, “The procession starts from the church and ends in the church.” The town fiesta begins. This will be declared by the “hermana mayor.” The “hermana mayor” or the “hermano mayor” invites the townspeople (the entire population plus the visitors) for a lavish meal at his/her home. The children look forward to a “pabitin” loaded with fruits and candies.

“Santacruzan” is a religious-cultural activity loaded with fashion, politics, food, and anything within one’s imagination. It’s more fun in Santacruzan!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 24, 2014.


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