An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Wednesday issued this reminder to organizers of these traditional May festivities that in recent years have become star-studded events where designer gowns are modeled by movie stars, celebrities and gay entertainers.
“Let’s keep the holiness, sacredness and dignity of the celebration…. It’s all about how we … give reverence to the Virgin Mary, so let’s not turn it into a form of entertainment or merrymaking,” said Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP Permanent Committee on Public Affairs.
In an interview over the Church-run Radio Veritas, Secillano reminded the faithful that the Santacruzan and the Flores de Mayo should be kept sacred as these are considered religious activities.
While the Flores de Mayo is meant to honor the Blessed Mother, the Santacruzan is held in honor of Queen Helena of Constantinople (“Reyna Elena”) and her newly converted son, Emperor Constantine the Great (“Constantino”), who was said to have found the True Cross in Jerusalem.
Secillano said the twin religious events had been turned into beauty pageants in recent times, with some of them involving gay participants. Such merrymaking has caused these events to “lose the spirit of the celebration.”
“Make the processions simple so [they do not lose] their real essence, which is to give respect and praise to the Blessed Mother,” the CBCP official said. “It doesn’t matter if the decorations are grand or if there are many flowers. What’s important is to get the people involved in prayer and to encourage them to have a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother,” he added.
Since its introduction in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period, the Santacruzan has been celebrated by Filipinos with much pomp and pageantry, with participants dressed in ornate costumes representing biblical characters and local beauties modeling elaborate gowns and riding flower-bedecked floats.
In many provinces, the Santacruzan procession has also become a cross-dressing occasion for gay participants who turn up as their favorite movie stars or religious characters.