Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Go Smell the Flowers

I was stunned when I saw the parade of beautiful ladies inside the mall. I didn’t realize that it’s the month of May already. Nor did I think that some people still practice the tradition- SANTACRUZAN. It was very nice to see that it’s being practiced although the whole meaning has been changed throughout the years.

The tradition is also known as Flores de Mayo (flowers of May). Flores is a Spanish word meaning "flowers". It refers to the whole Flower Festival celebrated in the month of May in honor of the Virgin Mary.

A Santacruzan is a religious-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns and even small villages all throughout the Philippines during the month of May. It is one of the most colorful May-time festivals in the Philippines which depict the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.

The festivity 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.

Nine days of prayer (a novena) in honor of the Holy Cross precedes the Flores de Mayo or Santacruzan. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards in the Philippines and has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love and romance.

Well, I remembered way back second year high school. I was the Reyna Ezperanza- my only memory of being in a pageant, hahaha! It was fun to be part of the traditional parade. I was a member of the “Hijas de Maria”- meaning “Daughters of Mary”. Our leader is an old lady who is very conservative that discouraged us to have a boyfriend at a young age. It was nice to think that kids during those times were still so innocent. My younger sister was so eager to attend the daily novena every afternoon where she wore an angel costume. I still remember how happy she was that she received a gift for perfect attendance after the end of the month. The A-V-E M-A-R-I-A is represented by eight (8) girls all wearing long white dresses with wings to make them look like angels. Each one carries a letter to complete the word "AVE MARIA."

Anyway, things are so different now. Seldom will you see young girls participate in the religious activities in our town. It’s even surprising to see these very young girls were so busy texting- you can’t have a real conversation with them. Their cell phone or mobile phone is more important to them. I don’t even understand how or where they got the load or the phone itself, knowing that their parents are not well-off. Maybe they are not that innocent anymore at the age of 13.

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