Part and parcel of Filipino culture, the fiesta is celebrated in towns and barrios in respect to a particular patron saint. Perhaps the most elaborate fiestas of all are the Santa Cruz de Mayo and the Flores de Mayo, which are celebrated every May.
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.
FHFI’s celebration of the Santacruzan was held on May 27 with the procession starting at Plaza Moriones in Fort Santiago to Plaza Roma. The procession ended at Manila Cathedral. A dinner was then held at Casa Manila, which was hosted by the Intramuros Administration.
Mimi Santos Valerio and 1952 Ms Philippines title holder Maria Cristina Galang Caedo were the hermana mayores of this year’s Santacruzan, while Valerie Bariou-Bondoc, wife of former teen heartthrob Onemig Bondoc, was the Reyna Elena. Camp Suki owner and fashion designer Lito Perez provided the costumes for the gorgeous sagalas. This year’s celebration of Heritage Month is in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Intramuros Administration and the Society for Cultural Enrichment Inc.