Celebrating Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Kenneth Mheil Mangaya- Ay | May 18, 2020
May is the month of special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary for Christians in the Philippines. It is also one of the most beautiful months of the year and has traditionally been associated with flowers, especially in our country. Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) is the flower festival celebrated in the month of May in honor of our Blessed Virgin Mary.
Even while the COVID-19 pandemic limits outdoor activities and mass gatherings, there are still ways to practice the traditions of Flores de Mayo.
For Joseph Magdaherin, Pangulo sa Liturhiya (Liturgy) of a Gamayng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK) in Davao City, it is still a celebration commemorating the Mother of Church and the model of the Apostles. “Flores de Mayo is primarily intended for kids. They (kids) need to know who Mama Mary is and her role in the Church. They need to learn the fundamental prayers, like praying the Hail Mary and knowing how to pray the Holy Rosary. We tend to forget the importance of praying specifically to the Mother of Jesus. We pray the Holy Rosary as a family with Kids. In this way, we continue on venerating Mama Mary,” shared Joseph.
DXGN 89.9 Spirit FM also did not forget about the Flores de Mayo. They offer live streaming of Flores de Mayo, so we can still view the relevance of joining and learning about Mama Mary.
Meanwhile, for a Youth Catechist like John Harold Carpe, teaching kids during Flores de Mayo is what he considers one of the most fulfilling acts he did in his lifetime, “It was in 2016 when I felt a calling from God that I should do something for him. In High School, I was able to join an organization that teaches catechism in public schools. Fast forward to 2019, I accepted an invitation to teach kids during Flores de Mayo in our chapel. I did not hesitate because I know that it was one of God’s challenges to me.”
For John Harold, it’s very important that the tradition of Flores de Mayo will be passed on to many generations. “It’s already part of our life. Flores de Mayo should continue because it helped me as a person and as a servant of God. I wanted more generations to also experience the same gift I received,” he said.
While Flores de Mayo is a native Filipino tradition, the Santacruzan was established by the Spaniards when they colonized the archipelago. According to historians, the Santacruzan is a religious-historical beauty pageant which depicts the finding of the Holy Cross by Constantine the Great’s mother, Queen Helena (Reyna Elena), and the subsequent celebration that occurred in Rome after its finding. It is held on the last day of the Flores de Mayo in the month of May.
Women dressed in terno act as reynas or sagalas and are escorted during the procession by men clad in barong Tagalog. They walk underneath elaborately decorated arches and are escorted by a band and men and women praying and holding lit candles. Among the reynas are Reyna Esperanza (Queen of Hope), Reyna Justicia (Queen Justice) and Reyna Abogada (Queen Lawyer). Each represents the various characteristics of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
For designer Jhayare Magdaleno, it was a childhood dream to participate in Santacruzan events. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko… gusto ko makasali din sa ganyang event (I told myself… I will be part of that event in time.).” Now, Jhayare’s dream became a reality. He was able to showcase his creations for 10 Santacruzan events in the country which he considers as one of his greatest achievements as a designer with a career spanning 2 decades already.
Joining Santacruzan made him feel surreal and happy because more than exercising his talent and executing his passion in designing, he’s also able to exercise the kind of faith he has to God and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Honestly, at first, I am focused on my creation and the kind of creativity that I put in the gown to make the people appreciate your work. But in the long run, I realize that I am doing this as devotion and thanksgiving for all the blessings bestowed to me by the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is also a catalyst for how you strengthen your faith.”
Flores de Mayo is held not just for the sake of tradition but to nurture the faith and love of Jesus Christ to His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. We should foster this devotion so that it will never go away despite the influence of modern culture on the younger generation.