Flores de Mayo is a Catholic festival held in the Philippines in the month of May. It lasts for a month, and is held in honor of the Virgin Mary.
The Santa Cruzan is a parade held on the last day of Flores de Mayo in honor of Reyna Elena.
Flores, from the Spanish word for "flowers," also known as Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May), Flores de Maria (flowers of Mary) or alay (offering), may refer to the whole Flower Festival celebrated in the month of May in honor of the Virgin Mary .
A Sagala is a religious-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns and even in small communities throughout the Philippines during the month of May. One of the most colorful May-time festivals in the Philippines which depicts the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Many movie and television personalities participate in the events and are featured as major sagalas and escorts. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards in the Philippines and has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love and romance.
The procession commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena (Reyna Elena) and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Rome, there was a joyful celebration for thanksgiving.
A novena in honor of the Holy Cross precedes the Flores de Mayo or Santacruzan.
Order of the procession
This colourful pageant parade is arranged in this order:
1. 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 that which he is toasting.
2. Reyna Banderada - a young lady dressed in a long red gown carrying a yellow triangular flag. She represents the arrival of Christianity.
3. Aetas - represents the animist Filipinos prior to the islands' conversion to Christianity by the Spanish.
4. Reyna Mora (Queen Moor) - represents the Filipinos who converted to Islam, which arrived in the Philippines two centuries before Christianity.
5. Reyna Fe (Queen Faith) - symbolises the virtue of faith,the first of the theological virtues. She carries a cross.
6. Reyna Esperanza (Queen Hope) - symbolises the virtue of hope, the second theological virtue. She carries an anchor.
7. Reyna Caridad (Queen Charity)- symbolises the virtue of charity, the third theological virtue. She carries a red-coloured heart.
8. Reyna Abogada (Queen Lawyer) - the defender of the poor and the oppressed, she wears a black graduation cap and gown (toga) and carries a large book.
9. Reyna Sentenciada (Queen Convicted) - has her slim hands bound by a rope, she stands for the innocents who have been unjustly convicted. She is accompanied by two Roman soldiers.
10. Reyna Justicia (Queen Justice) - a personification of the "Mirror of Justice", she carries a weighing scale and a sword.
11. Reyna Judith (Queen Judith) - represents the biblical widow Judith of Bethulia who saved her city from the Assyrians by slaying the cruel Holofernes. She carries the head of her victim in one hand and a sword in the other.
12. Reyna Sheba (Queen Sheba) - represents the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon and was overwhelmed by his wisdom, power and riches. She carries a jewelry box.
13. Reyna Esther - the Jewish queen of Persia who spared her people from death at the hands of Haman through her timely intervention with King Xerxes. She carries a scepter.
14. Samaritana (The Female Samaritan) - the woman whom Christ spoke to at the well. She carries a jug on her shoulder.
15. Veronica - the woman who wiped the face of Jesus; bears a bandana imprinted with the three faces of Jesus.
16. Tres Marias(The Three Marys)- each Mary holds an attribute associated with her:
a. Mary of Magdala - a bottle of perfume;
b. The Virgin Mary - a handkerchief;
c. Mary, the mother of James - a bottle of oil.
17. Marian - each figure alludes to a title of the Virgin Mary or is associated with her.
a. A-V-E--M-A-R-I-A - eight "angels"- girls all wearing long white dresses and wings- each holding a letter to complete the word "AVE MARIA."
b. Divina Pastora (Divine Shepherdess) - a shepherdess' staff.
c. Reyna de las Estrellas (Queen of the Stars) - a wand with a star.
d. Rosa Mystica(Mystical Rose)- a bouquet of roses.
e. Reyna Paz (Queen of Peace) - the symbol of peace.
f. Reyna de las Propetas (Queen of the Prophets)- an hourglass.
g. Reyna del Cielo (Queen of Heaven)- a flower; has two little "angels" accompanying her.
h. Reyna de las Virgines (Queen of the Virgins) - a rosary; also accompanied by two little "angels".
i. Reyna de las Flores (Queen of the Flowers) - a bouquet of flowers.
18. Reyna Elena (Queen Helena) - the last member of the procession, she represents Saint Helena, legendary finder of the True Cross; this is signified by the small cross she carries in her arms. The role is usually awarded to the most beautiful girl in the procession. For the Santacruzan to be more exciting, the identity of the maiden playing Reyna Elena is kept a secret until the day of the parade.
a. Constantine - the escort of Reyna Elena, he is a young boy wearing the barong tagalog. He represents the Emperor Constantine.
The procession is then followed by the steady beat of the rondalla, playing and singing the Hail Mary in Spanish ("Dios Te Salve"). The devotees walking with the procession hold lighted candles in their hands and sing the prayer as they go along.
After the procession, there is a pabitin that serves as a culminating activity for all the children to enjoy. A Pabitin is a square trellis where goodies (candies, fruits, small trinkets, etc.) are hung by strings. This trellis is, in turn, tied to a rope and is suspended on a strong branch or pole. The children then gather under the trellis and they jump as high as they can to try to pick the goodies as the trellis is slowly lowered to them while someone jerks it up and down repeatedly until all the goodies are gone.
It is customary for males attending the Santacruzan wear the traditional Barong Tagalog and that the females wear any Filipiniana- inspired dress.
Queen of Filipino Festivals
Filipinos likes fiestas. They are celebrated all-year round. All over the country, especially in the summer months, May is the merriest and the most beautiful month of the year. It is the season of colorful festivals and Flores de Mayo or Santacruzan is one such festival. Stop and smell the roses. During the month of May, in the tropical islands of the Philippines, we don't have to stop -- the fragrance of flowers floats in the air. When the rains begin to pour after a long dry spell, flowers magically bloom overnight. And being predominantly Catholic, the Filipinos celebrate the beneficial rains by giving praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The townfolk gather the colorful flowers to decorate the Parish Church altars and aisles. They bundle the blooms in exotic arrangements for the many different festivities all together referred to as the "Flores De Mayo" (Flowers of May). Many towns celebrate Flores De Mayo with the community congregating in the afternoons to pray the rosary, offer flowers to the Virgin Mary, and share homemade delicacies and snacks. Children and adults wearing their Sunday best sing and dance to welcome the rains that will water the new crops.
Santacruzan is held annually in the warm month of May and is considered to be the "Queen of Filipino Festivals". Beautiful town belles are selected to participate in this colorful pageant parade. The stars are selected not for their looks alone, but for their embodiment of traditional feminine qualities. It is a week-long street pageant in almost every town; from the dirt road barrio to the metropolis honoring beautiful Philippine maidens and their handsome escorts under the hand-carried bamboo arcâ€™s decorated by fragrant native flowers.
May is also the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. Filipinos turn each of the 31 days in May into a charming honor to the virginal virtues in Flores de Mayo, the flowers of May fiesta. Spiritual virtue searches to reach even the young. Every day in May, children, with cut flowers and baskets of petals in hand, march down the church center aisle. As the children march down the aisle they sprinkle the fragrant petals for Mama Mary. This custom is called alay sa Birhen. In Filipino, because it is an offering (alay) to the virgin (birhen), at the main altar, the youngsters sing hymns to Lady Immaculate, and leave their bouquet of flowers loose and dethroned.
"COURAGE is not having the strength to go on...it is going on when you DON'T HAVE the STRENGTH...."
One of the earliest Christian traditions closest to my heart is the Santacruzan. As early as 10 years old, I join the procession from Day 1 to Day 9, singing "Dios Te Salve" which I know by heart even though I don't understand a single word of it. I don't recall much the complete line up of the sagalas. As long as the Reyna Elena is there, that's the most important because I'm always curious about her gown and her escort. Honestly, I don't like a boy escort. I usually have crushes on teen escorts.
I also witnessed the improvements of the sagalas through the years, both in provinces and in Manila. From the traditional candles and sulos to light the pathways, I saw the emergence of rechargeable lamps and meters-long wires with bulbs. The costumes also changed from the traditional ball gowns to modern ternos and even haute couture.
this is how my small village back in the philippines show our devotion to the Holy Cross. performers are usually the most beautiful and/or intelligent young ladies in the village. the design of the gowns hasn't changed much from what i saw from old photos. uso pa ba ang zarzuela? in my village, yes.
watch some clips of the little known novo ecijano tradition of arraquio during the month of may (this was last year).
naging reyna emperatriz ako noong araw. huwag kayong maiingit mga gaga dahil nabali yung takong ng step in ko kalalakad nung santakrusan. mabuti na lang may dalang extrang step in yung baklang escort ko. malandi pa sa akin ang gagah!
May 4, 2008, Rajah Sulayman Park, Roxas Boulevard. The Congregacion del Santisimo Nombre del Nino Jesus on its 29th year mounted its version of the Flores de Mayo with 31 designs by some of the leading designers in the country.
photographer: Boyet Blas
Flores de Mayo sa MOA 2009 (Bellissima Filipina) Pictures
Filipina, Busilak sa Ganda! - Flores De Mayo sa SM MOA 2011
Photos from Bruce Casanova, Ryan Sayat, GHARYJOHN and tanzz
Last edited by czar198500 on Fri May 06, 2011 4:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
"COURAGE is not having the strength to go on...it is going on when you DON'T HAVE the STRENGTH...."
Very nice, indeed! Now, I hanker after my youth in the Philippines.
Summer holidays then weren't complete without the Santa Cruz de Mayo or Flores de las Hijas de Maria. It was bit a different back then because Santa Cruz de Mayo would always start at around 7 PM, so there were these dazzling kerosene lamps and candles and elaborate arcos that made the event really grand; atmospheric even. One thing I hated, though, was we had to walk with the queens singing "Hail Mary" in Spanish (Dios Te Salve) but every now and then the musikeros would break into the super fast version of the Spanish national anthem. And the young boys who weren't tall enough or not tisoy enough had to wait on tables; asking the Sagalas which ice cream they preferred -- "D'you like the Ube or the Buko? Apa or no apa?"
I went back home once and to my surprise, they were doing the Santa Cruz de Mayo in the middle of the afternoon! It was very strange to watch.