And usually on the last day of May, as the highlight of the festivities, a procession through the town's main streets is held. The procession, or Santa Cruzan (Holy Cross), is a pageant of sorts where Reyna Elena's (Queen Helena) search for the Holy Cross is re-enacted.
Queen Helena is the Roman Emperor Constantine, the Great's mother. And the Santa Cruzan is basically based on this emperor's sending his mother to do an errand. (Talking about a mama's boy, I guess). He wanted her to look for the Holy Cross.
Well, thanks to that doting mother who always wanted to give what her son wanted, towns and cities in the Philippines have this parade of ladies and their escorts, all dressed up in their elaborate gowns and barong tagalog walking through the main thoroughfares during a hot summer evening!
Each lady, or sagala, is assigned a title of the personality she represents based on the story of the search of the Holy Cross. And the most popular personality is, of course, Reyna Elena herself. Who wouldn't want to play the emperor's mom, if only for one summer night?
Being Reyna Elena means she's the prettiest of all the sagalas (or perhaps she's the daughter of the town's wealthiest family?). Well, with a very expensive-looking gown and an inch-thick make up, who wouldn't look like a queen?
I miss watching the Santa Cruzan back home, although I don't miss being forced to be consort during my teenage years. And I think my brother didn't like being a consort either. I don't remember seeing him smile all throughout the procession. Ha-ha-ha! And I can't recall which 'reyna' I escorted. But I'm sure it wasn't the Reyna Elena.
But unlike me (and my brother), the consorts accompanying these sagalas in these photographs I took during the Philippine Santa Cruzan in Seoul looked proud, happy and enjoying their role.
These reynas in their Filipiniana gowns and decorated parasols also look pleasing and proud to share an aspect of the Filipino culture to everyone watching the parade at Banpo Park in Seoul.
It would have been a more elaborate Santa Cruzan had this been held in the Philippines, where this time of the month, the excited ladies who will represent the personalities of the Santa Cruzan will have been selected already. By now, these girls and their proud moms must be busy attending to their gowns and all the preparations required to pull off this once a year (or once in a lifetime) assignment.
When Queen Helena traveled to the Holy Land in about 326 B.C., I wonder if she also wore such elaborate gown and wore such heavy makeup. But leave it to the Filipinos to turn a historic event, which otherwise will have already been forgotten, into an annual pageantry, which not only takes on a religious form, but also showcases the 'who's who' of a community.
But since I'm here in Seoul, I wouldn't be able to catch the Santa Cruzan at my hometown. But when you do catch one at yours, I hope the sagalas and their consorts would be as proud and happy to be part of the Flores de Mayo festivities.