The month of May is hailed as the Queen of Festivals, for this month holds the most colorful and the merriest festivals in the country: from Pahiyas in Lucban to Magayon Festival in Legazpi, truly that this month holds festive celebrations. And when this month comes around, there is just one celebration that everyone has in their mind: Santacruzan.
Santacruzan is a procession of beautiful maidens from different towns, together with their escorts, under wooden arches, adorned with beautiful designs and flowers which embodies the essence of the celebration. Spaniards introduced the celebration to the Filipinos and until now, especially the towns in provinces, still celebrate this festivity.
The procession begins with an Aeta group, an indigenous group in the Philippines, representing the unconverted Pagans before Christianity came. Then it is followed by beautiful ladies, representing different purpose and meaning. Here are some, if not the major, but vital queens in Santacruzan:
- Reyna Banderada
A Reyna Banderada is a young lady dressed in a long red gown, holding a banner, representing the arrival of Christianity.
- Reyna Mora
Reyna Mora represents the dominant religion, Islam, before the arrival of Christianity. Mora means the feminine Moro of Islam.
- Reyna Fe
The Reyna Fe represents the first theological virtue, faith. She walks with a cross in her hand.
- Reyna Esperanza
The Reyna Esperanza represents the second theological virtue, hope. She walks with an anchor in her hand.
- Reyna Caridad
The Reyna Caridad represents the third theological virtue, charity. She walks with a red heart in her hand.
- Reyna Justicia
The Reyna Justicia acts as an image of the “mirror of justice”. She carries a weighing scale and sword.
- Reyna Sentenciada
The Reyna Sentenciada is the symbol of the innocents who are convicted. She is accompanied by two Roman Soldiers.
- Reyna Abogada
She wears a black toga while carrying a big book. She represents the defender of the poor and oppressed.
- Reyna Judith
She represents the Biblical Judith of Bethulia, who saved her city from the Assyrians by slaying the cruel general Holofernes, that’s why she’s carrying a head in one head and a sword in the other.
- Reyna Sheba
Representing the unnamed queen who visited Solomon’s temple, and was overwhelmed with the king’s wisdom and riches, she is carrying a jewelry box.
- Reyna Esther
Reyna Esther is a nod to the Biblical Esther who saved her nation by making a plea to King Xerxes. She is seen carrying a scepter.
- Reyna de las Flores
From the name herself, Reyna de las Flores is the Queen of the Flowers, and usually carries a bouquet of flowers or her arch is adorned by flowers.
- Reyna Emperatriz
The Reyna Emperatriz is the representation of Queen Helena, particularly her title being the Empress she received in Constantine.
- Reyna Elena
Always the last member of the procession, Reyna Elena is the representation of Queen Helena herself. The lady represents the queen being the one who seeks the True Cross. She is often symbolized with a cross or crucifix in her arms. She is joined together with a little prince, signifying Constantine the Great, her son, when he was a little child.
Other titles include Samaritana, Veronica, Tres Marias (Santa Maria Jacobe, Santa Maria Magdalena Perfumadora, and Santa Maria), Marian (representing the titles of the Virgin Mary) and many more queen titles.
The richness of the Filipino culture is shown through the extravagance of our expression of every festivity. We can be a little extra, or a bit over the top, but for most Filipinos, traditions and festivities deserve not just an ordinary commemoration, but should be observed with reverence, sacrifice and above all, love.