When I said that I started joining the Santacruzan since the summer I learned how to walk, I wasn’t joking. I learned to walk 2-km straight even before I learned how to drink milk from a glass. I cannot remember a summer from my childhood that I didn’t join the Santacruzan (a.k.a. Flores de Mayo a.k.a. Tapusan a.k.a. Sagala). There were times when I even joined the thing a couple of times during that same summer.
I look scared in this pic. I don’t know why haha
Maybe as I child I loved joining the thing. I joined it with my cousins. I remember having fun while trying on dresses. I remember having fun walking on the streets wearing our pretty (sometimes oversized) gowns. I remember how much I loved putting on make-up. It made me feel so grown-up. It was just so fun back then because I joined with my cousins.
I look so delighted in this photo.
It started to become such a burden when my cousins were suddenly given the option not to join. I had no choice, really. I always had to join. I used to ask my mother why my cousins and my sister were allowed not to join but I had to. My mother explained that our family needs a representative or something. I never get it.
The whole thing started to not make any sense. I understand that the Santacruzan is held every year to offer flowers to the Virgin Mary. I even know the lyrics to the song! (Halina’t tayo’y mag-alay / Ng bulaklak kay Maria.) What I do not understand is why every year, the gowns suddenly get bigger and more expensive. I don’t think I fully understand why people devote so much time and energy to this tradition. Or maybe the meaning of the tradition is officially lost for me.
I understand why I had to dress up. I’d been going through the whole thing for two decades; I kind of understand why people tirelessly do it every year. But I think the tradition’s getting superficial. My mother said that back when she was a kid, the girls joining the Sagala only wore their Sunday’s dress. Why did they change that? What’s wrong with wearing the best Sunday’s dress? Why are the participants suddenly expected to wear ball gowns and beaded ones? Why can’t we stick to what’s simple and suddenly choose the extravagant?
Whenever I think of the money people spend every summer for each gown, each bouquet of flowers, I cannot help but cringe. Why can’t the money be spent for something else? Someone once told me not to be kuripot when donating to the church or spending money for my faith. But it’s not my kuripot nature that’s at work here. I just think that the money could have been spent for something else, something more fruitful. Wouldn’t the Virgin Mary think so too?
Also, the one thing I hate the most about joining the Sagala is how I’m expected to smile and project the whole time. People know how much I hate “projecting” in front of the camera. I’d rather do stupid poses and funny faces.
Santacruzan, 2009. So graceful.
Last year I was our barangay’s Hermana. It was the second time that I was the Hermana. I made a deal with my mother that it would be the last time that I will join the Sagala. So that made this summer the first time in years that I wouldn’t be joining in the tradition.
This is a good summer, indeed.