TODAY is the last day of May and in many towns all over the country, the final Santacruzans and Flores de Mayo celebrations are held. The Santacruzan, brought here by the Spaniards, has been called the queen of Filipino festivities.
Religious in origin – portraying the legend of Queen Helena, searching for the True Cross at the site of the Crucifixion in Jerusalem – the Santacruzan evolved into a community festival over the years, featuring the community’s prettiest girls walking in evening processions as the people of the community followed with lighted candles, singing “Dios te salve, Maria.”
The Reyna Elena – Queen Helena – and her son Constantino, later to become the Emperor Constantine the Great, during whose reign Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome, were always the last characters in the procession.
They were preceded by various figures, among them the Reyna Esperanza, Reyna Caridad, Reyna Sentenciada, Reyna Abogada, Reyna Justicia, Divina Pastora, Reyna de los Angeles, etc. In Metro Manila, beauty queens and movie stars have joined the Santacruzan in big social affairs that served to climax the month of May as the Month of Flowers.
Last Saturday, however, a different sort of Santacruzan was held at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman. It was basically a protest demonstration against what the student organizers perceive to be signs of injustice, oppression, and violations of human rights in the country today.
Instead of the usual Reynas of the traditional Santacruzan, there were a Reyna Justicia, calling for the release of political prisoners; a Reyna de los Martires, speaking up for victims of extrajudicial killings; a Reyna dela Verdad, calling attention to journalists and other peace advocates killed for speaking up for the truth; a Reyna Esperanza, embodying the hopes of development workers and activists; and a Reyna dela Paz, representing the cause of indigenous people defending their ancestral lands and Mindanao folk calling for an end to martial law.
So much is happening in our country today, so many programs and projects that are causing so many changes in our traditional way of doing things. There have been some protests such as in the early days of the anti-drugs campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) which caused the President to assign the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to take over the lead in the drive. There are still some sectors who see the need for changes in some of the government’s various operations, such as those behind the UP protest Santacruzan.
The causes it advocated may not be shared by most Filipinos but they should be listened to. There may be something to them or to some of them, something on which government action is needed.