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Grand Santacruzan at the Araneta Center

Filipinos love fiestas. It is said that every day, there’s a fiesta going on somewhere in the Philippines. One of the most popular fiestas observed in the country is the Santacruzan, or Flores de Mayo. It is traditionally held in the month of May, wherein each town selects beautiful young ladies to become one of the sagalas to parade around town under the different titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On May 5, the Araneta Center will once again come alive with colorful flowers and lovely sagalas in breathtaking gowns in the annual Grand Santacruzan. The event will begin with a Eucharistic Mass at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Quadrant C Activity Area. After the Mass, past and present Binibini queens will line up under their respective “arkos” adorned with fresh blooms and parade the streets around the center.

Among the Binibining Pilipinas queens to grace the annual procession are Miss Universe Philippines 2012 Janine Tugonon, Bb. Pilipinas International 2012 Nicole Schmitz, Bb. Pilipinas Tourism 2012 Katrina Dimaranan, and runners-up Elaine Kay Moll and Annalie Forbes. Former queens, including, Miss Universe 2011 3rd runner-up Shamcey Supsup, Bb. Pilipinas International 2011 Dianne Necio, Bb. Pilipinas Tourism 2011 Isabella Manjon, Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj, Bb. Pilipians World 2012 Czarina Gatbonton, Miss Universe Philippines 2008 Jennifer Barrientos, Bb. Pilipinas International 2008 Patricia Fernandez, and Bb. Pilipinas World 2008 Janina San Miguel will be joining the reigning queens. Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz will be the Reyna Emperatriz.

Several of this year’s contestants will also participate in the procession, including semifinalist and Ms. Photogenic Karen Gallman, and her fellow semifinalists Patricia Ejercitado, Gina Joy Howell, and Liezl Alcantara. 

Stylist Bing Cristobal provided the designer gowns for the sagalas. The sagalas will be wearing Filipiniana gowns made by Jot Losa, Jontie Martinez, Lloyd Arceo, and Philip Tampus.  

Participating in the Grand Santacruzan brought back memories of their hometowns’ fiestas for the 2012 queens. Bataan native Janine has fond memories of their town fiestas in Balanga. “Our town fiesta is on May 8. I enjoy the performances in the plaza, the parades, perya rides, and the Santacruzan.” Katrina recalls how she always enjoyed the fiesta in San Juan City, her hometown. “In San Juan in June, yung basaan. People will knock at your door and splash you with water. Okay pa rin ako kahit magpabasa ulit!” she says.

Cebuana beauty Nicole, on the other hand, loves the Sinulog fiestival. “I love how everyone comes together for the Sinulog. There’s loud music everywhere, and there are lots of people. I enjoyed having tribal paint on our faces, street dancing.”

Elaine, who has roots in both Samar and Bicol, has experienced the Peñafrancia festival. “I remember the fluvial procession; everything is in gold, the Bicol express, and laing. I also joined the Santacruzan,” she says. Meanwhile, Annalie, a Bulakenya, fondly remembers the famous feast of Sta. Clara in Obando. “I remember dancing in the parade for four kilometers up to the church to offer flowers. I also like the Sta. Clara fertility dance.” Janine, Nicole, Katrina, Elaine, and Annalie all look forward to participating in this popular and revered tradition. 

The annual Grand Santacruzan at the Araneta Center is one of the activities that show just how much fun fiestas can be in the Philippines. This religious and cultural festival will kick off at 4pm with a Mass at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Quadrant C Activity Area. This will be immediately followed by the procession.

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