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Religious Filipino Tradition Relived in the US

 

Every May, the Philippines celebrates Flores de Mayo, a month-long celebration in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Young ladies in gowns and crowns all over the Philippines engage in colorful cavalcades for the highlight of this festivity–the Santacruzan–a religious procession in honor of Constantine the Great’s mother, Saint Helena, who found the Holy/True Cross.


On Saturday, community members and timeless dancers had a taste of this vibrant tradition at the Cora Anderson Dance Studio in Miramar.

 

 
Cora Anderson, the studio and event venue’s owner, and its manager Morris Maraya came up with the idea to relive in the States this religious and rich tradition.

 
"In the Philippines, it’s a tradition," said Anderson. "Once it hits May 1, there goes everybody. Every weekend there’s a Santacruzan. I told them, ‘Why can’t we do that here?’"


In collaboration with The Filipino Press’ marketing director Susan delos Santos, the trio organized the Santacruzan for two months to a successful first, and hopefully becomes an annual event for the Filipino community in San Diego.


"We want to celebrate Flores de Mayo," said Maraya. "We miss the Philippines. I hope this tradition is gonna come every year as long as we have the studio."


The Santacruzan is known for its procession of many queens and women with biblical connotations, such as the Tres Marias, Reyna Esperanza (hope) and Reyna de la Paz (peace).


This year had seven queens and Maraya hopes to have as much as 24 next year.


All seven were excited and pleased to represent different reynas. More importantly, it was an honor for them to carry on a Filipino tradition in the US.


Carrying the Bible in the procession was the Luklukan ng Karunungan (Seat of Wisdom) as portrayed by Mariane Adlao; Kristal May Lacsa was the Reyna de las Estrellas (Queen of the Stars) who held a wand with a star on top; Remy Richardson was the Rosa Mystica (Mystical Rose), a queen carrying a bouquet of roses; and Hazel Tamano portrayed the Puso ni Maria (Heart of Mary), the carrier of a pink heart.


"I looked it up and it looks interesting," said Lacsa. "I really like it because as a second generation, it kind of teaches me more about my culture; stuff that I can’t really find at first glance at a website, like when I look up ‘Filipino culture’ it just gives you basic stuff."


Eunice Miranda was the Reyna de las Flores (Queen of Flowers), the queen of Flores de Mayo and Elsie Mislan portrayed the Reyna Imperatriz (Queen Empress), a representation of Saint Helena as the queen mother.


Always the last in the procession, the Reyna Elena (Queen Helena) carries a small crucifix as a symbol of the True Cross, and was portrayed by Iris Ramirez.


"Anything that has to do with the Filipino culture and celebrating our traditions, especially here in America, is wonderful," said Frances Pascua, the evening’s host. "That way we don’t forget about our culture."


All in all, it was a night of social and cultural connection with the Mother Country. Anderson said more preparation is underway for next year’s Santacruzan.


The Cora Anderson Dance Studio is located at 8990 Miramar Rd. Anderson prides it not just as a dance studio but as a "hotel-quality event venue for all occasions at a very affordable rate." For more information, call 858-689-6944.

 
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