May 07, 2008

Santacruzan History and Reyna Participants List

Are you looking for the list of participants in the Santacruzan? Then here are some of the well-known reyna participants. But first, let me give you a brief history of the Santacruzan.

Santacruzan is a traditional religious Filipino festival with strong Spanish influence. It takes its name from the Holy Cross – Santacruzan – which, according to history, touched so much the life of Empress Helena who searched for the cross from an inspiring dream.

Santacruzan is a traditional religious Filipino festival with strong Spanish influence. It takes its name from the Holy
Cross - Santacruzan which, according to history, touched so much the life of Empress Helena who searched for the cross from an inspiring dream.

Constantine called the Great was the son of Flavia Helena and Emperor Constantine I Chlorus of the Roman Empire. Following his father's death in 306 AD, Constantine was confirmed emperor. His full name was Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus.

Constantine ruled at a time when there was confusion about boundaries of territories of the empire. To assert his hold on the kingdoms under his domain, he led expeditions and conquests. His mother Helena constantly prodded him to rule with compassion as she prayed for the unity of the Empire.

Contantine's conversion to Christianity dates from the time when during his expedition of conquest, he saw a flaming cross in the sky beneath the sun bearing the Latin inscription HOC VINCES; (in this sign thou wilt conquer). From the experience, Constantine adopted a monogram consisting of P (Greek Rho) between the upper arm of an X, (Greek Chi); the initial letters of Christ in Greek.

Empress Helena had such a strong influence on the conversion to Christianity of Constantine I. Thus, the story of the mother and son tandem spread far and wide. Although Constantine was baptized only on his deathbed, he was attracted to Christianity which advances had been so remarkable. Spain was one of the territories under the empire of Constantine I. It is safe to assume that the Christian influence on Spain was an offshoot of the expeditions of Constantine. History has rich accounts of the unity of policy and freedom under Constantine I.

His mother worked for freedom of worship and adoration of one God. Santacruzan was passed on to the Philippines by the Spanish conquistadores. It was meant to be a celebration of the discovery of the cross by no less than Empress Helena. In the early Philippine Church, little girls clad in white marched to the altar and offered flowers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The practice was integrated in the procession honoring the Holy Cross as the symbol of salvation. The original Santacruzan featured young girls in white chanting venerations of the Holy Cross and of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The first sagala or attraction was the Hermana or the sponsor. She represented Empress Helena and she used to be accompanied by a young boy representing Constantine. The Hermana was the lead person in the procession. She wore
attractive attire and jewelries as if to announce her status in life. The Hermana caused the Holy Cross to be transferred from the church to her house and this sign of authority; was announced through the procession.

As the best time of the year was when flowers bloomed which occurred during the month of May, the procession or transfer was held this month which also signaled the onset of the coming of rain, a blessing to farmers. A sagala or attraction representing flowers was chosen from among the beautiful young girls. So, the Reyna de las Flores or Queen of flowers was the first title added to sagala Helena. This was the reason why Santacruzan was sometimes called FLORES DE MAYO.

As the years went on, the number of sagalas increased. Each sagala represented a person in history or in the Bible. Later, sagalas symbolizing tradition or culture were added as the Santacruzan, meaning procession of the Cross, became popular as the favorite summer event.

Santacruzan in the Philippines soon became a tourist attraction as beauty title holders or even movie stars were invited to be sagalas. Why there were so many sagalas was attributed to the fact that were so many women, nay, beauty title holders who vied for the position of Reyna Elena or Emperatriz Helena which soon became a prestigious title conferred to the fairest of them all; The practice was tolerated as it attracted people to the Church.

There were attempts to separate Santacruzan from Church activities. In fact, there were blasphemous accounts of how gays took the title of sagalas with such competition that defocused attention from the cross to the gays wearing seductive costumes that drew both cheer and sneer.

Celebrities, movie stars, and beauty title holders were invited as sagalas to the detriment of interested potential hermanas who could not afford the costly professional and talent fees of the stars, the couturiers or fashion designers and the price of advertisement. Santacruzan became a fashion showdown much to the disgust of the organizers.

The original list of sagalas was meant to accommodate the increasing number of interested participants and the long list of sagalas prompted organizers to put division and order in the Santacruzan procession.

Cultural characters included national figures or images representing values or practices in the country. Biblical characters were taken from the Bible at the whim of Hermanas, Marian titles were taken from the Litany of the Virgin Mary and other titles referring to her. Historical titles were derived from prominent women who figured in history for their beauty, influence, power and leadership. To accommodate prospective sagalas, numbers were assigned and this resulted to titles such as Reina Elena I, II, III or Emperatriz I, II, III and so on.

Eventually, the Hermanas served food to the increasing number of devotees or onlookers who joined the Santacruzan. In the local Church, Santacruzan became a fund raising activity meant to assist the Church in its evangelical mission.

Another development was the inclusion of married women as sagalas as many of them were more dignified and more regal. Later, various organizations, church based, government or non-government organizations fielded their own versions of sagalas.

Santacruzan shall remain a traditional religious activity for Filipinos. It should be preserved, respected and promoted for what it was originally meant to be: an expression of respect to and the veneration of the CROSS.


  1. so where are the lists?

  2. The list is here.

  3. yes where is the list and the significance of their titles please.

  4. Although I agree that the tradition be continued, there should be reform so that the true meaning of the practice will be more obvious and not be another fundraising display of vanities.