Thursday, May 29, 2008

"SANTACRUZAN"

The month of May is a festive month in the Philippines. It is the month where most fiestas are celebrated in by villages and towns. Above all the Filipinos have a beautiful cultural as well as religious tradition known as "Santacruzan". The "Santracruzan" is a folkloric reenactment of the exultation of the Holy Cross. The different living dioramas shows Constantine as a little boy together with his mother St. Helena. On a given date a prade is held in the village or town where people renact the finding of the True Cross. This activity specially delightful to children. As a child I had fond memories of this events. We certainly love to participate in these processions and tableus because after the processions we were always treated with cookies, sweets and drinks by the Hemano or Hermana Mayor. The Hermano or Hermana is the leading lay person in the community who by recognized piety and means is willing to provide for the needs of the festivals. The Santacruzans are usually initiated by lay persons. The Procession is always preceded by a huge lantern made in the shape of a cross with bamboo as frames and Japanese paper as cover. The Cross usually depicts the symbols of torture such as the crown of thorns, the nails and flagellation instruments. On the side of the Cross there are two lanterns made in the shape of stars. Then at the middle of the procession is the Cross born on a platform with women and children singing as the procession goes its way. The singers are called cantoras (singers / chanters), the singing are accompanied by drums and trumpets as well as other musical instruments. Actually this folksy religious practice is Hispanic in origin, promoted by the Spanish Missionaries during the colonial period. The Friars were very creative in trying to convey the truth of the Christian Faith to the native population who were still young in faith. This practice aside from entertaining is also cultural. Although in some places this practice as denigrated into fashion shows, still in many rural areas it has retained its charm and religious significance.


The Santacruzan is taken from the story of St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. St. Helena is a woman of Character, simplicity, and deep personal piety. She was marrid to a Roman General and bore him a son - Constantine. She was divorced by her husband and after the death of her husband Constantine became Emperor and subsequently made Chriatianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. You can read more about her from the Wikepedia.

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