It is early morning and I can hear loud cheers from outside in the streets, people are dancing for sure, carrying leaves and flowers to the tune of novelty and pop songs.
You have all known that I am living in the province, in a very rural town that my chemistry teacher friend jokingly calls ‘barriotic‘, because this place is your typical agriculture-fishing town.
However, there are some things that I won’t change from this place, no matter how much time passes by. I have always been yakking about the fact that Hollywood has practically depicted the culture of much of Southeast Asia except for the Philippines, and it bugs me so much, but of course I know the reason – the cultural heritage of Filipinos are kind of vague to the world, unlike that of India, China, or Japan where once you see a single icon, you know for sure that it came from their country, unlike in RP, where colonizer after colonizer, vandalized a culture that is uniquely Filipino. And that is where my barriotic place comes in – we protect traditional Filipino practices that somehow shapes our view of our culture.
Last night, FairyGodMommy Fe hosted Santa Cruzan here. Santa Cruzan is a tradition here, every summer, a part of the Flores de Mayo festival. It actually celebrates the finding of the cross by Sta. Elena, so Santa Cruzan is catholic in nature.
You might’ve seen it on TV, when stars usually join big ones in the metropolis. However, what we have here in our place is quite different.
Sure you have your lovely girls wearing their princess gowns and crowns but there is also the presence of young girls, performing some kind of abaniko [fan] dance, and they are singing – not just any song, but telling the story of how Sta.Elena found the cross and other religious musings, accompanied by a brass band.
Santa Cruzan is very popular here in our place. Every night, each baranggay [community] conducts their own, and whichever family accepts the cross of Santa Cruzan feeds the community – it is kind of costly really, but as FairyGodMommy Fe puts it, ‘the sense of tradition that comes with it, we must not let die, even if it costs quite much’.
Lots of people come out to watch and join this special parade. People usually come to the streets to see it even late at night.
After some weeks of doing it every night, there is a culmination that is called piging [feast] which is conducted in the morning and at night, and what I described above, with the people dancing and cheering with leaves, that is piging. It is a much bigger event and with more people.
There are many times I have wished I did not live from where I am, because it is very far from the city and other random hassles, but it is things like Santa Cruzan – and all the sense of culture and tradition that come with it – that makes me glad that I am from this place.