The Santacruzan as a year-round spectacle

The Santacruzan as a year-round spectacle
Max Eigenmann and Albert Figueras —ALBERT FIGUERAS FB PHOTO

This isn’t a stale story or one may say, news. As a matter of fact, it is still taking place, and there’s no off-season.

Consider this perhaps an extension of Mayflower festivities prevalent in the month of May. No matter, however; even though it’s already June, others may argue this is timeless.

Rain or shine, from January to December, it’s Santacruzan time.

Of course, it is relevant to hold an event that pays homage to a certain point of the cycle in real time. But this is the digital age and we can create any occasion, even in AI fashion, anytime we want to.

No alibis, no excuses.

Santacruzan is a staple, way of life or production. Just look at the many fashion shows mounted in hotels, halls, trade centers, entertainment areas of malls, reception floors of buildings or houses—antique or newly built, sound stages, vast fields, public places, plazas and wherever possible.

Because of its colorful ambience, the event as tribute to Queen Helena (Reyna Elena in colonial Filipino arts and culture) of Constantinople as she discovered the True or Holy Cross with her son Constantine has been a perfect vehicle to showcase the latest collection of gowns of designers. New sartorial creations can best convey the features of a Reyna Emperatriz or any characters from the Bible or their representations in Salvation History.

Reyna Elenas galore

When fashion designer Goullee Gorospe was still alive, he would produce a Maytime fest in October or December. The show would include a Santacruzan with matching models of all shapes and sizes (young and old, pro and upstart, society matrons and nouveau riche businesswomen, and the like) portraying maidens in the procession onstage—makeshift or built-in—of Teatrino, Dusit Hotel or Manila Polo Club.

Goullee would even hold contests of the best Reyna Elena of the runway, even designating and proclaiming as many Reyna Elenas as possible as winning Reyna Elena I, II, III ad nauseum just to please everyone.

In beauty contests held anytime of the year—in the barangay, city and municipal, provincial, regional or national—the concept of Santacruzan in national costumes or production numbers is workable and vibrant.

Not to be outdone are gay beauty contests or male beauty competitions where female aspirants can don frocks for Santacruzan beauties whose escorts are usually good looking or movie star material in traditional or fusion wear of old and new Filipiniana, mostly barong tagalog.

Male pretenders to the throne of a Mr. Philippines or any other titles can echo, portray and display the grown up Constantine look in Westernized suits or indigenized garbs to adapt a Filipino sense of fashion.

In this year’s Mayohan (Tagalog adaptation of practicing artistic and cultural activities and influences in May like fiestas), the Santacruzan corteges were a series of religious processions in different parts of the country—far and near, rural or urban—participated in by Catholics or even Born Again Christians, who couldn’t resist to field their young daughters to play maidens or some Reyna Elenas.

Santacruzan is indeed a spectacle, but to attract more spectators (commercially, gathering advertisers and sponsors or annual pledges and spiritual vows of organizers), movie, television, and theater stars or even social media sensations are invited to play mainly the Reyna Elenas or Reyna Emperatrizes.

Take the case of the mother-daughter team of Zsa Zsa Padilla and Karylle who looked momentarily splendid as Reyna Elenas, while award-winning actress Max Eigenmann portrayed Reyna Emperatriz in an event organized by the Caampued family in Barangay Olimpia in Makati City. Max donned a Maria Clara-inspired Filipiniana cut exclusively designed for her by fashion czar haute couture Albert Figueras.


“Sagalahan” at the Most Holy Rosary Parish Church in Lopez, Quezon —PHOTO BY BOY VILLASANTA

In my bucolic town of Lopez, Quezon, there was a distinct way of holding a Santacruzan called Sagalahan (from “sagala” or maiden in a religious procession)—without the typical Reyna Elena or Emperatriz. 

The parade was participated in by diverse biblical figures like Reyna ng Tuwa (Joyous Queen), Reyna ng Luwalhati (Glorious Queen) etc. or the maidens who epitomized the five mysteries of the Holy Rosary (Lopez’s patron saint and parish church being the Most Holy Rosary), Banderada, Reyna de los Angeles, Reyna de las Estrellas etc. They were topped by the Reyna de la Flores (Queen of Flowers) to represent the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Flowers.

Literature wasn’t strange in the Sagalahan after all as most of these sagalas recited a poetry called “lua/luwa” to venerate the Holy Lady. Lua/Luwa originated from Iloilo but has been practiced in Lopez after the Pacific War, according to Lily Villasanta Arriero, an interpreter or a declaimer during one Sagalahan.

Santacruzan Reyna de las Estrellas
Reyna de las Estrellas Angel Evangelista recites the “lua/luwa” at Dry Brush Gallery. —SUSAN SAGARBARRIA-CORPUS FB PHOTO

To make the lua/luwa transported to other cultures and spaces embodied by local actress Angel Evangelista as Reyna de las Estrellas, we brought it to Dry Brush Gallery at SM North Edsa’s Interior Zone to transition the merriment of May to the scorching heat of June and perhaps go on presenting Mayohan to blend with other seasons all-year round.

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