May Festival


Reg'd. on 05/05/00


Pagsanjan Club

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Friday, 04 May 2001
Photo Collage-Click to view larger version


in Pagsanjan on May 27th

      May is the best month of the year to visit Pagsanjan. To feast-loving Pagsanjeños, it is the time for merriment, romance, and music, the serenade songs, rising with melodic sweetness to the accompaniment of throbbing guitars or wailing violins. Since the Spanish period, Pagsanjan has been famous for May time festivals, namely the Flores de Mayo (The Flowers of May), and the Santacruzan (Festival of the Cross).

      This year's May festivities for the Roman Catholic "Flores de Mayo" will be hosted by the Opelanio family. The over-all hermanos and hermanas are the children of the late Anacleto Opelanio - a former Maulawin Barrio Captain, and Emiteria Ranes. The following members of the Opelanio family include:

  • Dionisio R. Opelanio
  • Victoria Opelanio Calupig
  • Dolores Opelanio Santos
  • Bartolome R. Opelanio
  • Family of deceased Rufina Opelanio Trinidad
  • Librada Opelanio Ramos
  • Aurea Opelanio Fernandez
  • Laura Opelanio Buencamino
      The festivities for the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe is set on May 27, 2001. The Opelanio family are inviting
"sagalas" to join the Flores de Mayo. Short procession in the morning will start in Maulawin to the church for Thanksgiving Mass and then lunch will be served at the Pagsanjan Rapids Hotel.

      The highlight of the event for the Maytime festivals is the Santacruzan which will start at 4:00 P.M. procession from the Roman Catholic church and around the town (bayan) streets with the sagalas, hermanitas, hermanitos, committee, the carriage of the Virgin Mary and the Opelanio Family.

      The Reyna Elena for the Flores de Mayo/Santacruzan is Clarissa Opelanio Trinidad, daughter of the late Rufina Opelanio and Cesar Trinidad.

      Jennifer Opelanio Ramos, daughter of Rick and Lib Opelanio Ramos of San Diego, California USA, will join her parents on their visit to Pagsanjan. As she will be one of the "sagalas", she is excited to learn and experience the Filipino culture and traditions, especially her mother's hometown, Pagsanjan.

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By Betty Balatero

      This festival and procession is a popular tradition that on one hand is closely connected with the May devotions, especially the Flores de Mayo (some even consider it as "the climax of the whole Flores de Maria"). On the other hand it is connected with the feast of the Finding of the Cross, formerly celebrated on May 3, now abolished in the General Roman Calendar. Today it is in many places unhappily more a presentation of movie stars and beauty queens, a popular celebration but devoid of religious meaning.


      It is connected with the tradition that Empress Elena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, in the year 325 AD found the true cross of the Lord in Jerusalem. The legend says that she found three crosses. In order to find the authentic cross of the Lord she had sick people brought. When they touched one cross they were healed, while touching the other two crosses nothing happened. This was Elena's test of authenticity.

      The feast of the Finding of the Cross (May 3) became very popular and as a consequence the whole month of May was devoted to the veneration of the cross long before it became the month of Mary. Many popular cross traditions and devotions developed, some of them even existing today. In the 12th century developed the tradition of blessing crosses which the people took home and planted into their gardens and fields as a protection against stormy and inclement weather. From May 3, the feast of the finding of the Cross, until September 14,
the feast of the Triumph of the cross, there was a special blessing given at the end of the Mass with the relic of the Holy Cross. This blessing was a petition for good weather and a plentiful harvest.

      The Spanish missionaries brought this popular devotion to the Holy Cross from Europe to the Philippines. In order to catechize the people they introduced a dramatic presentation of the finding of the cross in the form of a procession. The Santa Cruzan was a medieval form of this what we call today an audio-visual aid.
It intended to present to the eyes of the people what really was celebrated on May 3. And so Reyna Elena, holding a crucifix, and accompanied by her son Constantine, became a fixed important feature in the Santacruzan procession. Soon other Reynas were added to the procession, some representing attributes of the Virgin Mary.

      Reyna Mistica, usually with a rose flower in her hands, symbolized the title "Mystical Rose" of the litany of Loreto; Reyna Justicia with a balance and sword presented the title "Mirror of Justice"; Reyna de los Angeles surrounded by angels showed the title "Queen of Angels." There were also other Reynas portraying virtues: Reyna Fe, Reyna Caridad, Reyna Esperanza. It seems that the Santacruzan combined the old Cross devotion (from the 12th century) with the later Marian devotion (from the late 17th century). It was in the beginning a procession in honor of the Holy Cross (Santacruzan) with Empress Elena as one of the main figures. From the end of the 17th century on when the month of May began to develop into a Marian month also, the Santacruzan accepted more and more Marian elements. The Marian dimension of this procession was expressed also in the fact that in former years the devotees were encouraged to recite during the procession the holy rosary.

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