The Santacruzan sa Sugbo 2023, held at SM Seaside City Cebu, astonished mall-goers and guests alike as it showcased an enchanting blend of tradition, spirituality and elegance. This year’s event, organized with meticulous attention to detail, paid homage to the revered Santacruzan festival in a grand celebration of faith and culture.

The Santacruzan is a magnificent and vibrant procession that honors the quest for the Holy Cross led by Reina Santa Elena, Constantino’s mother. The event features a stunning display of costumes as young women and men portray various Biblical figures, saints and historical personalities while parading through the streets.

The highlight of the procession is a reenactment of Reina Santa Elena’s search, with the esteemed Malou Rama taking on the role of the queen herself.

The program commenced with a Holy Mass at the historic San Pedro Calungsod Church, where Msgr. Agustin “Ting” Velez Ancajas led the congregation as the main celebrant.

Fr. Mhar Balili, known for his profound spiritual guidance, co-celebrated the mass, setting the tone for the evening’s festivities.

Following the mass, the much-anticipated procession began, showcasing a vibrant lineup of participants who meticulously brought to life the essence of the Santacruzan.

The procession, led by the DBC (Dance-Band-Company), created an atmosphere of joyful anticipation.

The enchanting “Zagalas of Flores de Mayo” gracefully made their entrance, each representing a particular aspect of the celebration. The meticulously designed gowns by renowned local designers, such as Steff Tirado and Elmer de Venancio, adorned the young women, exuding elegance and cultural pride. From Reina Fe, bearing the cross, to Reina de las Flores, holding a bouquet of flowers, each Zagala captivated the audience with their grace and beauty.

The Andas of the Blessed Virgin Mary, accompanied by the Cebu City Hall employees, carried the sacred image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, evoking a sense of reverence and devotion among the attendees. The procession continued with the Zagalas of Santa Cruz de Mayo, symbolizing various significant figures and moments in Catholic tradition.

The intricate designs by talented designers like Marichu Tan-Geson and Hanz Coquilla added a touch of sophistication to the costumes.

The high point of the evening arrived with the grand entrance of the Empress and Queen Santa Elena—Rama was accompanied by her son, Constantino Michael Jude “MJ” Rama.

The coronation of Reina Elena y Emperatriz was a moment of true grandeur.

During the ceremony, several distinguished guests, including Cebu City Mayor Michael L. Rama and Lapu-Lapu City Rep. Cindi King Chan, presented bouquets to the Empress and other notable participants. This gesture symbolized the community’s deep appreciation and admiration for their dedication to preserving the essence of the Santacruzan.

Beyond its religious significance, Santacruzan serves as a social gathering and a splendid spectacle of beauty and pageantry. It’s common to see local beauty queens and celebrities joining the procession, adding an extra touch of glamour and excitement. The event also brought the community together, fostering a sense of unity as people celebrate their faith and immerse themselves in the joyous festivities.