CERRITOS – Young and beautiful Filipinas, dressed in native Philippine gowns and escorted by young Filipinos clad in Barong Tagalog, paraded around the Cerritos Regional Park as the Philippine Society of Southeast Los Angeles (PHILSELA) show cased one of the Philippines’ most popular cultural traditions, the Santacruzan last Saturday, May 31, in Cerritos.
The Santacruzan Festival is one of many annual projects of the 40-year-old community organization and attracts hundreds of residents in Cerritos and nearby cities who witness how Filipinos celebrate what is commonly described as “Queen of Festivals” in the homeland.
The festivity commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine the Great. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Rome, there was joyful celebration for thanksgiving.
This year’s Reyna Elena is Jillian Manalang. Joining the parade are officers and members of PHILSELA, led by President Nimfa Castro and Chairman Frank Yokoyama all dressed in native Philippine gowns and Barong Tagalog.
The event was organized by the 2014 Santacruzan committee, led by Alice Ramos, chair and Nimfa Castro, vice chair and Jill Manalang, Hermana Mayor.
“PHILSELA is proud to present one of the Philippines’ most revered festivals in the form of Santacruzan to the community of Cerritos and nearby cities. This is an annual project of the organization that gives both Filipinos and non-Filipinos a chance to have a glimpse of Filipino culture and traditions,” said PHILSELA president Castro.
Ramos, who was president of the organization in 2012, said she is glad and honored to spearhead this grand event. She thanked all the young women who graced the parade as reynas and sagalas and their escorts, the sponsors, Cerritos community organization volunteers, residents of the city of Cerritos and other nearby cities, and all the officers and members who helped make the event a success. Special thanks to Leelin Bakery for their support of the 2014 Santacruzan.
Before the parade, mass was held at the Cerritos Regional Park gymnasium at 12 noon presided by Fr. Tony Gomez of St. Linus Catholic Church. The parade started at 1:30 p.m. and ended one hour later, followed soon after by free refreshments and a cultural show.
Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido, a Filipino-American who once served as a sagala escort when he was still a teenager, and Vice Consul Mary Joy Ramirez were the guests of honor.
The celebration took a more festive atmosphere with the performance of a 28-member rondalla, the Filipino American Musical Ensemble (FAME) that played popular folk music, and folk dance presentations by the reynas, the Pinoy Kids, and students of the Filipino Cultural School. The American and Philippine national anthems were sung by Charishma Marquez while a song number was rendered by Irel Oliver. The masters of ceremonies were Beth Boschma and Paolo Roca.