Saturday, May 23, 2015


Aside from feast of Saints during the month of May in Philippines, this month is also the season of blooming flowers and in Christendom it is also season of Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan.  In Philippines, these two are also known Sagala.  Through the years, watching Sagala during the month of flowers is always much awaited and anticipated.  Since the occasion is during summer season where schools are off, it is an experience for children looking forward to witness these events that became part of their curious mind as they grow.  For children, it is their humble dream to become part of these momentous events that gives confidence.  Taking part or watching live Sagala is the actual lessons that can only read in books and heard from grannies’ old stories.  I’ve seen the occasions in different times and personalities while I was growing up.  As always, the fine-looking faces, nice dresses and big smiles are marking in my memory.  Back then, the procession was so simple but worth to wait, no competition of jewelleries and accessories, no fireworks, no generators, no emergency lights but only lanterns, candles and torches yet so meaningful, appreciated and unforgettable.

Flores de Mayo is about the flower offerings during the whole month of May as devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in honour for her purity and holiness.  Part of the occasion is the nine days novena where on the last day of flowers offering is a pageant called Santacruzan in honour of Queen Helena for finding the Holly Cross which believed to be where Jesus Christ was crucified and died.  According to the old belief, three hundred years after Jesus was died, Queen Helena was dreaming of the Holy Cross which she searched and found in mountain of Calvary.  As a Catholic dominant country, the Sagala is held in many places in Philippines where the different personalities were personified in procession arranged in order.  The characters in Santacruzan are Methuselah, Queen Banderada, the Aetas, Queen Mora, Queen Fe, Queen Esperanza, Queen Caridad, Queen Abogada, Queen Sentenciada, Queen Justicia, Queen Judith of Pethulia, Queen Sheba, Queen Esther, Queen Samaritana, Veronica, Mary Magdalene, Virgin Mary, Mary mother of James, eight little angles each holding the letters to read Ave Maria, then the different images of Marian as Divine Shepherdess, Queen of Stars, Rosa Mystica, Queen of Peace, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Heaven, Queen of Virgins, and Queen of Flowers.  And last on the parade is Queen Helena escorted by her son Prince Constantino.

Sagala is a tradition of devotion inherited from our great-great grandparents that we should pass to our great-great grandchildren without changing the context of what tradition has really taught.  It may have different faces and presentation through the years but the message it conveys is the same message back in old years.  Sadly the occasion is changing today.  Santacruzan is a blessed tradition to observe but instead, the occasion becomes platform of presentation of expensive costumes and accessories, grandstanding by inviting famous personality just to recognize the organizers, commercialization with the obvious advertisements of the sponsors.  And with no offense, it becomes instrument for the third sex to show their feminine side.  Santacruzan symbolizes the prominent women of a religion-historical occasion.  Men playing queens is disrespect to the distinguished women who played important role in our devotion.   They are not fictional.  We are giving life to these women, we should respect their femininity and our holy devotion.  It is not fashion show of clothes, glamour and sponsor.   Let us preserve the sacredness and sanctity of our spiritual feasts like Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo.

Joining Sagala, whether the queens, the escorts, the organizers or the supporting watching people is not only for the glamour but more than any display and appreciation of pleasing personality are the lessons of knowing the culture, tradition, community involvement and being cooperative and approachable individual.

By Alex V. Villamayor
May 22, 2015.

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