May-Time Santacruzan

6:21 PM

I used to be a santacruzan princess.

My earliest memory of participating in the May-time santacruzan was when I was about four, dressed in a white gown, parading along the streets of a town in Bulacan. How I ended up in this northern town’s line-up of little girls, I don’t know. After all, we were then living in Quezon City.

Me at four: all dolled-up and escorted by childhood friend Marlon .
I must confess that I’ve never been a Reyna de las Estrellas or a Reyna Paz or a Reyna de las Flores. Nor was I ever a Reyna Elena – the coveted character of Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great and one who found the holy cross. I, instead, must’ve joined about twelve of these religious-historical pageant parades by the age of six. I’d like to think that the sheer number of santacruzans I’ve joined should make up for whatever titles I lacked. And needless to say, 'princess' has a nice ring to it rather than ‘sagala veteran’.

Two weeks ago at Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall, my brother and I were about to queue for some Mang Inasal pecho when a loud brass band marched past by us. Wearing sponsored uniforms by Pinoy fast food institution Jollibee, the band heralded an upcoming parade and parted the sea of mall-goers. Eventually came into view the sagalas and their escorts framed in green arches decked with orange and yellow paper blooms. Winding it all up at the tail end was another brass band, this though was sponsored by collegiate favorite McDonald’s.

I did wonder who these people were and how did the mall choose them. I got my answer from little white signs hanging from the arches. Apparently, these chosen ones were winners and finalists of the mall’s recently concluded idol search. I should’ve guessed, given that the usual sagalas and escorts are celebrities of some sort.

And though this santacruzan didn’t stay true to its Catholic origins as a depiction of Queen Helena’s quest for the holy cross, Sta. Lucia Mall’s version certainly gave us something amusing to look at and an excuse for me to take a trip down memory lane.

PS. An essay about my days as a santacruzan princess is featured in the book In Their Own Voice; edited by Dr. Emy Liwag and Dr. Rofel G. Brion; Finalist for the Cardinal Sin Book Awards for 2010

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