Santacruzan in Philippines: Beauty pageant in honor of the Holy Cross

Eva Rapoport's picture


May in the Philippines is a month of flowers and religious devotion as it is time for the catholic festival Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May). It includes daily flower offerings to the Virgin Mary, also perceived as a Queen of May, and results in colorful processions passing through the cities and towns.


Santacruzan, a pinnacle of the month-long festival, can be described as a sort of religio-historical beauty pageant. It is held to commemorate the discovery of the Holy Cross which, as believed, was made by Saint Helena and her son Constantine who became the first Christian Roman Emperor. Parades are meant to reenact both the search for the Holy Cross and the festivities that took place in Jerusalem after its discovery.


Young girl and little boy wearing sumptuous outfits are the main characters of the procession, which nevertheless includes numerous others impersonating angels and archangels, twelve stars of the Virgin Mary’s crown, abstract concepts (like seven virtues), just noble ladies and gentlemen (Damas y Caballeros) or even Angelic Salutation as eight letters forming ‘Ave Maria’ carried by eight different girls, also wearing glamorous gowns.  


Most of the procession participants as well as many of the preceding it Solemn Mass attenders are either children or teenagers. After the prolonged service, all leave the church and walk around the town accompanied with a brass band playing major tunes.


Introduced by the Spaniards festival tradition was carried on and developed for over a hundred years and was as well brought to Europe and America by the Philippine immigrants.


‘Damas y Caballeros’
One of the ‘Seven Virtues’
Waiting for the Mass
Getting Virgin Mary ready for the procession


Musicians’ uniforms
The ‘Archangel’

‘Constantine’ joining the procession with his personal fan



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Your photo essays represent the culture, event, and people in candid colorful ways. Keep posting. Hopefully, someday you’ll have a book of all these events you’ve covered and I can buy it.

Great photos and an interesting festival. Thanks!