I HURRIED last Monday coming from a trip to Pasig City in order to catch up with the fiesta in a barangay in the City of San Fernando. My friends called me three times, and even reminded me through their text that it is a must that I should be there because they prepared kalderetang kambing, my favorite.
Fiestas are no longer what they used to be. Compared to the fiestas in my youth, me and my friends chased brass bands as they marched along the streets. I can still remember those memorable scenes which are still deeply etched in my memory.
Fiestas are still being held today in many cities, towns and barangays all over the country but they're somehow lost the appeal due to the realities of today where people prefer to go to malls, where they can have those affordable buffet, 'eat all you can', instead of looking for kin and friends' houses in celebration.
It is in this month of May when fiestas are being held in many parts. And fiestas being held are no longer grand. And as a tradition though, it refuses to die.
Sta. Rita town will celebrate it on the 22nd and the City of San Fernando on May 30. I remember those particular dates because I accompanied my mother Beatriz a.k.a. Indang Beth to her friends houses in their fiesta celebrations.
There was a time when writers, described this month as the 'merry month of May'. It was because of the festivals held in May. The fiestas, coronations of beauty queens, the serenatas of competing bands, the musical jamborees on makeshift stages, the amateur contests, and of course the santacruzan.
Santacruzan is also called 'Flores de Mayo', meaning flowers in May. It is some kind of a religious and historical pageant featuring the Reyna Helena and his escort Constantino, and some sagalas in tow. The Reyna Helena is a personification of Helena of Constantinople who brought with her a crucifix and in search of the Holy Grail. The Reyna Helena almost always the most beautful pick among the local lasses. Or sometimes hermano mayoras and mayores import a movie starlet or a beauty queen to be the Helena.
Normally the parade was backed by brass band playing, and a choir singing 'dios te salve', the Spanish version of Hail Mary. It will be culminated by a ' pabitin' where a bamboo pole smeared with grease and with prize money waiting at the top for whoever can pick it.
In this month of May, and some cities, towns and barangays are mulling plans to hold their respective santacruzans. I googled on the internet who should be participating in the Flores De Mayo for reference and authenticity, and here is the list:
Matusalem, bearded with age. Reyna Banderada, queen with a banner. Three aetas, dark skinned indigenous people. Reyna Mora, represents Muslim Filipinos. Reyna ng Saba( Sheba), represents unnamed queen who visited King Solomon. Ruth and Noemi, ancestresses of King David. Reyna Judith, the biblical widow. Reyna Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia. Cleopatra, the famous last pharaoh of Egypt.
Samaritana, the woman at the well who conversed with Christ. Sta. Veronica, the woman who wiped the face of Christ. Tres Marias, three Marys associated with the entombment of Christ. Reyna Fe, Esperanza and Caridad, representing faith, hope and charity. Reyna Sentenciada, her hands bound with rope stands for the early Christians. Reyna de las Flores, she carries a bouquet of flower. Reyna Helena, the last member in the procession.
For further authenticity, get a Goido, the moorish highwayman who with his troops trying to halt the procession. Many of my friends from Monday Club or Wednesday Club will suit the role.
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on May 11, 2017.
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