Flores de Mayo, Santacruzan and Tapusan in Batangas

smaller-reina-flores santacruzanPhoto from: Humanflowerproject.com

This month of May, Santacruzan, Flores de Mayo and Tapusan in various towns and baranggays here in our province will be celebrated. But for sure, though we participate and celebrate these three major events in May, the terms, “santacruzan, Flores de Mayo and Tapusan” confuse some people out there.

Let us start with Santacruzan. The Santacruzan is a novena procession commemorating St. Helena’s (Elena) mythical finding of the cross. St. Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great. According to legends, 300 years after the death of Christ, at the age of 75, she went to Calvary to conduct a search for the Cross. After some archeological diggings at the site of the Crucifixion, she unearthed three crosses. She tested each one by making a sick servant lie on all three. The cross where the servant recovered was identified as Christ’s. St. Helena’s feast day falls on August 8 but the anniversary of the finding of the Cross is on May 3rd, in the Philippines, this celebration took the form of the Mexican Santa Cruz de Mayo.

The Santacruzan is a procession that differs from most other religious processions in that it does not parade images of patron saints. Instead, biblical and historical characters are represented by the local people dressed in appropriate costumes.

Some of the Santacruzan Participants are the following:
Reyna Banderada – a young lady dressed in a long red gown carrying a yellow triangular flag. She represents the arrival of Christianity.

Reyna Mora (Queen Moor) – represents the Filipinos who converted to Islam, which arrived in the Philippines two centuries before Christianity.

Reyna Fe (Queen Faith) – symbolises the virtue of faith,the first of the theological virtues. She carries a cross.

Reyna Esperanza (Queen Hope) – symbolises the virtue of hope, the second theological virtue. She carries an anchor.

Reyna Caridad (Queen Charity)- symbolises the virtue of charity, the third theological virtue. She carries a red-coloured heart.

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.

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.

Reyna Justicia (Queen Justice) – a personification of the “Mirror of Justice”, she carries a weighing scale and a sword.

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.

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.

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.

Samaritana (The Female Samaritan) – the woman whom Christ spoke to at the well. She carries a jug on her shoulder.

Veronica – the woman who wiped the face of Jesus; bears a bandana imprinted with the three faces of Jesus.

Tres Marias(The Three Marys)- each Mary holds an attribute associated with her:

Mary of Magdala – a bottle of perfume;
The Virgin Mary – a handkerchief;
Mary, the mother of James – a bottle of oil.

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.

On the other hand, 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. Every day in the whole month of May, prayers and flowers are being offered to Mama Mary in baranggay or towns’ “tuklong” or chapel. There are also some areas in Batangas in which “luglugan” is conducted after the praying of the Holy Rosary and flower offerring. This luglugan is a form of entertainment which is composed of presentations from local folks. Kids usually prepare song and dance numbers and present these during luglugan. Every night, there is an herman mayor who will take charge of the food to be distributed to all.

Also at the end of the month is the Tapusan. Local folks celebrate this day with santacruzan or the sagala in the afternoon and a seemingly party (tapusan) at night. This seems like a fiesta for all town folks. Known performers and artists are usually invited to joyously end the Flores de Mayo.

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