May is the month of flowers and fiestas in the Philippines. It is also the month Catholic Filipinos dedicate to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Sunday, May 15, the country’s loveliest belles will participate in a religious and cultural procession along the streets of the Araneta Center in a Grand Santacruzan like no other.
As it enters into its next decade of existence, Araneta Center upholds this popular and revered tradition in even grander scale. The santacruzan is considered as the “Queen of Filipino Festivals”. With the recent launch of its program “Fiestacular Philippines”, Araneta Center has metamorphosed into the center of urban “fiestas”. Earlier this year, Fiestacular Philippines had its successful version of the “Capiztahan”, an event which greatly helped in promoting the actual fiesta in Capiz last April. Reigning and past beauties of the Bb.
Pilipinas will grace the procession. There will be a host of other festive elements in the procession including at least four marching bands and participants from the neighboring areas of nearby Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish to which the Araneta Center belongs. Among the participating Bb. Pilipinas ladies are finalists of the recently concluded pageant including “tricycle driver” Luzelle Felipe and Best in National Costume, Elizabeth Clenci. Past queens who are adding elegance to occasion are Nicolette Henson, Patricia Fernandez, Jennifer Barrientos, Marie Ann Umali, Czarina Gatbonton, and Krista Kleiner.
Bb. Pilipinas 2011 winners Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Shamcey Supsup, Bb. Pilipinas-International Dianne Necio, Bb. Pilipinas-Tourism Isabella Manjon, runners up Janine Tugonon and Mary Jean Lastimosa will process under the titles bestowed on the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Grand Santacruzan commemorates Queen Helena’s search for the Holy Cross. It is most fitting then that this year’s “Reyna Elena” will be Ms. Universe-Philippines Venus Raj and the Reyna Emperatriz is Ms. International Aurora Pijuan.
May 15 will truly see a harvest of blooms and beautiful ladies at the Araneta Center. Habitués will experience a cultural, spiritual and visual rush this coming Sunday at the Araneta Center. A Eucharistic celebration kicks off the festivities at 4pm at the Promenade Area of the Gateway Mall. This will immediately be followed by the Grand Santacruzan that will start at the Red Gate of the Araneta Coliseum.
Araneta Center certainly knows the best time and grandest way to “stop and smell the roses”.