Flores, from Spanish flores or "flowers," also known as Flores de Mayo (flowers of May), Flores de Maria (flowers of Mary) or alay (offering), may refer to the whole Flower Festival celebrated in the month of May in honor of the Virgin Mary .
In the Tagalog region, this custom and celebration started after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and after the publication circa 1867 of Mariano Sevilla's translation of the devotional Flores de Maria or Mariquit na Bulaclac na sa Pagninilaynilay sa Buong Buan nang Mayo ay Inihahandog nang manga Devoto cay Maria Santisima (The Flowers of Mary or the Beautiful Flowers that in the Meditations During the Whole Month of May are Offered by Devotees to Mary the Holiest). (http://www.filipino.com.au/categ/culture/floresdemayo.htm)
A Santacruzan is a religious-historical beauty pagent held in many cities, towns and even smll villages throughout the Philippines during the month of May. One of the most colorful May-time festivals in the Philippines which depicts the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Many movie and television personalities participate in the events and are featured as major sagalas and escorts. (http://www.intas-travel.com/incentives/fiesta_floresdemayo.html)
The festivity commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena (Reina Elena) and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to rome, there was a joyful celebration for thanksgiving.
Nine days of prayer (a novena) in honor of the Holy Cross precedes the Flores de Mayo or Santacruzan. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards in the Philippines and has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love and romance.
This colorful pageant parade is arranged in this order:
1. Methuselah - he is bearded, bent with age, riding a cart looking preoccupied with toasting some grains of sand in a pan over a fire. This is a reminder that all that glitters will end up as dust like what he
2. Reyna Banderada - a young lady dressed in a long red gown carrying a yellow triangular flag. She represents the coming of Christianity.
3. Aetas - represent the state of the country before the coming of Christianity. These are the unconverted Filipino pagans.
4. Reyna Mora - represents the dominant religion before Christianity (feminine of Moro from the Moslem religion).
5. Reyna Fe - symbolizes the virtue of faith - the first of the theological virtues. She carries a cross.
6. Reyna Esperanza - symbolizes the virtue of hope - the second theological virtue. She carries an anchor.
7. Reyna Caridad - symbolizes the virtue of charity - the third theological virtue. She carries a red heart.
8. Reyna Abogada - the defender of the poor and the oppressed. She wears a black graduation cap (toga) and gown and she carries a big book.
9. Reyna Sentenciada - has her slim hands bound by a rope. She is the symbol of the innocents who have been convicted. She is accompanied by two Roman soldiers.
10. Reyna Justicia - a personification of the "mirror of justice". She carries a weighing scale and a sword.
11. Reyna Judith - representing Judith of Pethulia who saved her city from the Assyrians after she beheaded the cruel holoferns. She carries the head of the beheaded man on one hand and a sword on the other.
12. Reyna Sheba - who visited the famed King Solomon and was overwhelmed by his wisdom, power and richess. She carries a jewelry box.
13. Reyna Esther - the biblical Jewish who spared her countrymen from death and destruction through timely intervention with the King Xerxes. She carries a scepter.
14. Samaritana - the woman who Christ spoke to at the well. She carries a jug on her shoulder.
15. Veronica - the woman who wiped the face of Jesus. She carries a bandana imprinted with the three faces of Jesus.
16. Tres Marias: Mary of Magdala - she carries a bottle of perfume; Mary, Mother of Christ - she carries a handkerchief; Mary, mother of James - she carries a bottle of oil.
17. Marian - celebrating the many titles of the Virgin Mary.
a. A-v-e--M-a-r-i-a -- represented by eight (8) girls all Wearing long white dressess with wings to make them look like angels. Each one carries a letter to complete the word "AVE MARIA."
b. Divina pastora (Divine Shepherdess) - she carries a shepherdess' staff.
c. Reyna de las Estrellas (Queen of Stars) - she carries a wand with a star.
d. Rosa Mystica - she carries a bouquet of roses.
e. Reyna Paz (queen of peace) - she carries the symbol of peace.f. Reyna de las Propetas - she carries a hour glass.
g. Reyna del Cielo (Queen of Heaven) she carries a flower. She has two (2) angels.
h. Reyna de las Virgines - she carries a rosary and is surrounded by two (2) little angels.
i. Reyna de las Flores (Queen of Flowers) - she carries a bouquet of flowers.
18. Reyna Elena (Queen Helena) - the legendary founder of the true Cross, represented by the small cross she carries. She is escorted by her son, Constantine.
The procession is followed by the steady beat of rondalla, playing and singing "Dios Te Salve". The devotees walking with the procession hold lighted candles in their hands and singing the prayer.
After the procession there is a pabitin that serves as a culminating activity for all the children to enjoy. Pabitin is a square trellis where goodies (candies, fruits, etc.) are hung by strings. This trellis in turn is tied to a rope and is suspended on a strong branch or pole. The children gather under the trellis and they jump as high as they can to try to pick the goodies as the trellis gets lowered to them while someone pulls it up and down repeatedly until the goodies are gone.
For the Santacruzan to be more exciting, the chosen Reina Elena is kept a secret until the day of the parade to surprise the people.
It is requested that male members attending the Santacruzan wear Barong Tagalog and the women wear any Filipino costumes, if available.