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Santacruzan: A Cherished Filipino Tradition Blooms in the Valley

For the Filipino community here in the Valley, the month of May holds a special place in our hearts. It’s a time when we gather to celebrate our rich cultural heritage through the beloved traditions of Flores de Mayo and the Santacruzan procession. This year, the festivities took place at Our Lady of the Valley Church, the only parish in the area that offers a Tagalog Mass, making it a homecoming of sorts for this vibrant celebration.

The Flores de Mayo, or Flowers of May, pays tribute to the Virgin Mary through offerings of beautiful blooms and prayerful devotions throughout the month. The Santacruzan procession, held on the final day, commemorates the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great.

According to legend, Helena embarked on a journey to the Holy Land at the age of 75, determined to uncover the cross upon which Christ was crucified. After archaeological excavations at the site of the crucifixion, she unearthed three crosses. To identify the True Cross, Helena had a servant lie upon each one, and the cross that restored the servant’s health was recognized as Christ’s.

The Santacruzan procession reenacts this historic event, with beautifully adorned sagalas (queens) representing biblical and historical figures such as Reyna Elena (Queen Helena), Reyna de las Flores (Queen of Flowers), and Reyna Banderada (Queen of the Banner). Accompanied by their escorts, these sagalas parade through the streets, their intricate gowns and regal bearing captivating all who witness the spectacle.

For the Filipino community in the Valley, the Santacruzan is more than just a festive occasion; It’s a cherished tradition that strengthens ties and connects Filipinos to their roots within the broader community. As one attendee remarked, “It’s a celebration of our heritage, our faith, and our unity. Seeing everyone come together, sharing in this joyous event, fills my heart with pride and happiness.”

This year’s Santacruzan overcame initial logistical hurdles, showcasing the resilience and dedication of the organizers and volunteers. The event was a true collaborative effort, with Filipino priests from across the Valley, a variety of generous sponsors, numerous hard-working volunteers, and families all contributing to its success.

From the recitation of the rosary and the offering of flowers to the grand procession and the concluding Mass and reception, the Santacruzan in the Valley was a vibrant display of the Filipino community’s devotion to their faith and their commitment to preserving their cultural traditions for generations to come.

Michael Lewis

Michael is joined at the hip with the Filipino American community through family, friends, and his love for the food. Over the past 15 years+, he has been an active "behind the scenes" contributor to a variety of Filipino community groups, events, and activities. Michael is also ringleader of the FilAm FamBam crew and in his free time enjoys RV'ing and anything tech.

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