Santa Cruzan is another cultural event that Filipinos celebrate during the month of May. This event culminates in series of beauty pageant, floral and religious processions. It stipulates two elements in the Philippine tradition. The first and foremost is the religious aspect where offering of pure love to God is symbolized in many forms. Among them is the offering of the novena prayer, and the floral processions of religious statues, particulary the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz). The second element is the social influence which Filipinos thrive to continue to keep the community or society intact.
The story of the existence of Santa Cruzan comes in many different versions. The first version indicates that the Santa Cruzan celebration can be traced back through the historical events which took place during the early Spanish colonization of the Philippines. About three centuries ago, the Spanish friars held their elaborate celebrations in the form of flower offerings, long processions depicting religious and social aspects which included pageantry, music and costumes. This celebrated event took place in the month of May where flowers bloomed and the weather was amicable. Such celebration was purposely held mainly to please the Natives and keep them satisfied, thus preventing rebellion against the Spanish occupation. The natives were allowed to participate and socialize, such as drinking and sharing their feast.
The second version of the Santa Cruzan existence is about a young monk who dreamed about the Virgin Mary. In his dream, the Virgin Mary was floating in space surrounded by starry lights and flowers. He relayed his dream to his Superior who later interpreted the young monk's dream as a task to celebrate Christ in the form of feast and celebration through elaborate religious procession, pageantry and flower offerings to the Virgin Mother. The month of May was also chosen for the same reason that flowers bloom during this month while the weather is in consonant with the event.
The third version of Santa Cruzan is similar to the first version. However, this version depicts the discovery of the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz) by Maria Elena and his son, Prince Constantine. Maria Elena was a queen, and a widow who was experiencing hardships in life. She was believed to be a Muslim by birth, but she converted to Christianity and vowed to look for the Holy Cross where Jesus Christ died. It was also believed that Queen Maria Elena (Reyna Elena) was believed to have found the Holy Cross which she believed have helped her get through her hardships. Since then, she vowed to pay tribute to the Holy Cross with offerings of love to God by virtue of respect to the Virgin Mother. From that moment, many women followed Rayna Elena's footsteps of which many of them converted to Christianity as well.
This third version of the Santa Cruzan celebration was also reportedly held in the month of May due to the fact that the Feast of the Holy Cross was celebrated in May (May 3). Such celebration involved processions of lady participants who played their characterized biblical characters (Sagala). Dressed in fiesta finery and escorted by willing bachelors, the ladies paraded under a floral arch or on a flower-decorated floats representing their respective Sagalas.
In Oroquieta City, Santa Cruzan is a celebrated event of Christ, and the Virgin Mother with whom the people's love are offered in the forms of religious and floral processions with ladies depicting each biblical character (Sagala). Each lady participant is dressed up in a queen's customes depicting a chosen Sagala of a queen (Reyna). Each Sagala parades under a floral arch or on a flower-decorated float and ranked by their respective biblical character. Winners are then picked from the Sagalas and are judged by the overall characteristic and presentation of their floral float or Arch.
The guidelines that are set in judging the winners are: 1) open to all Barangays of the City, 2) Arch should be made of indigenous materials; 3) Use of fresh flowers is recommended, however, other materials can be applied; 4) Arch should match to the title of the Sagala represents; 5) The designs, dimension and structure should depict creativity and artistry; for winners, and 6) The arch should only have two posts.
Criteria for Judging
Santa Cruzan - May 31
Today, Filipinos around the world celebrate Santa Cruzan in the month of May for the same reason. Besides Santa Cruzan, Flores de Mayo, is another event that is celebrated by most Filipinos during this month. However, this event involves mostly children performing church activities which starts on May 1 and runs through May 31. Children attend regularly scheduled daily cathechism classes inside the church. They learn the basic teachings of Christianity and the Catholic Faith. In the church, the children recite their prayers and they experience church activities including the offering of flowers to the Blessed Virgin Mother. Children are encouraged to attend the daily cathechism classes and for their incentives, they are given "tickets" for their daily attendance. On the 31st day of May they are allowed to use the tickets to exchange them with goods, such as candies, goodies and other things.