This pandemic that started in China has definitely wrought havoc to the many fiestas which the Philippines is famous for.
One of the most anticipated is the santacruzan that is a religious affair, although it’s more like a fashion show cum beauty pageant with beautiful participants dressed up in their finest gowns. The parade of characters depicts the search of Queen Helena, mother to Constantine the Great, for the Holy Cross leading her to Jerusalem. This is where she found the Holy Cross together with two other crosses, said to be the ones that the two thieves who died next to Jesus Christ were nailed to. Upon the discovery, an ill woman was brought in to touch each of the crosses. When she touched the one where Jesus was nailed to, she was instantly cured.
As a prayer for healing us of this scourge, Ilog councilor and staunch LGBTQ advocate Mark Vargas held a novena in honor of the Holy Cross. Upon completion of the novena, a colorful santacruzan parade was held, not in the streets of Ilog, but in the open sugarcane fields of Hacienda Vargas to further emphasize the ecological message to this year’s event.
The beauties and their dashing escorts braved the heat of the sun in sacrifice for their intentions – a total healing of the pandemic and for the environment, both heartfelt advocacies of this religious and extremely Catholic politician.
Well, it was a most surreal vision, seeing the vibrant gowns sparkling in the sunlight as they wound their way to an open air hamlet of trees where the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was waiting, and culminated with her coronation by Hermana Mayor Rose Fransz and our beloved councilor Vargas. It’s noteworthy that the True Cross was supposedly split into three by Helena: a piece was left in Jerusalem, another was sent to Rome, while the other went to her son Constantine. Hundreds of years later, relics of the True Cross can be found all over the world, like the monastery of Mount Athos in Greece, the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria and Rome’s Basilica of Santa Croce di Gerusalemme.
Behind all this pomp and pageantry, the Summer Beauties of Ilog for Charity, who participated in the santacruzan, showed their concern for the needy and the poor. They visited and gave help to inmates at the Ilog municipal jail, and the abused children taken care by the DSWD. The lovely lasses also assisted in the distribution of rice for those affected by the pandemic in Ilog. There was also a Charity Challenge, where these beauties went to the homes of the poorest of the poor and gave them help in whatever way they could.
The climax was when they acted as sagalas in the virtual grand santacruzan that was held privately in Hacienda Vargas. And so, history was made. There were no crowds to watch the parade of Summer Beauties and when they arrived for the culmination rites of the Virgin Mary’s coronation, they all donned their masks and socially distanced themselves. Special mention must be made to the talented fashion designers from Ilog, Steve Genzola and Bon Ryan Gonzales, from Bacolod – Edwin Benitez, Leonard Geraldes and Brylle Hiponia with Iloilo’s Daryl Amar giving their all for this most significant dedication to the month of May, specially dedicated to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
My Prayer: In my Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3, NIV*