Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
More than Moriones

There's nothing more authentic than watching a traditional santacruzan in the town it's named after -- Sta. Cruz. This spot in Marinduque may be more famous for being the center of the annual Moriones Festival, but also held once a year in this part of the Philippines is the religious festival called Flores De Mayo which culminates in a pageant known as santacruzan (sacred cross in Spanish), a practice that's close to the hearts of many Filipino Catholics. Even its semi-remote island village of Mongpong holds a fluvial version that circumnavigates the whole island at the surf more than once, passing its famous Ungab Rock Formation. On mainland Sta. Cruz, however, the procession is traditionally on foot and accompanied by a festive beat by the town's brass band. The revelry is enhanced with flowers and candles and made solemn with hymns.

The custom of choosing the most attractive female locals to portray the procession titles used to be based on physical beauty that focused on the face. With the change in the perception of women's worth in recent years, the practice has, more or less, evolved into who's the barangay's best and brightest which might explain why some girls who are not that attractive make it to the list.

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Town center of Sta. Cruz from a Maniwaya Island-bound passenger boat
The old Holy Cross Parish
Styling in the streets before the procession

The ornate church door of the old Holy Cross Parish

Beauty In The Eyes of The Beholder

Perhaps, this proves the adage of beauty lying in the eyes of the beholder to be true. The tradition is a religious one anyway which defeats the purpose of tending to people's spiritual needs if only physical attributes are considered in the selection process. However, spectators are still expected to see pomp and elegance in the form of Filipinas clad in elaborately produced gowns. They are still guaranteed to see faces that are fully made up to enhance one's best features instead of just concealing the ordinary.

Sta. Cruz Layover

While booked at the backpacker-favorite Dewey Hotel in Sta. Cruz with two friends, I got the chance to see the revelry mount from preparation time to the actual procession. I skipped the mass that was held at the century old Holy Cross Parish for a necessary late lunch at a local eatery near our booked inn since our RORO vessel arrived in the neighboring town of Boac from Lucena's Dalahican Port after midday.

The RORO vessel ride to Boac
Mongpong Island's Ungab Rock Formation where the fluvial santacruzan can be seen every month of May
My dose of dormancy in Sta. Cruz's island village of Maniwaya
The backpacker-favorite Dewey Hotel has AC and fan rooms.
Having street food with Paula and Paulo in Sta. Cruz for merienda

Styling In The Streets

At the quaint streets of Sta. Cruz, I saw a few number of local teenagers being made up by their respective beauty stylists without much care as to who was watching them. Unlike in Metro Manila where most preparations are secretly done in special rooms of beauty parlors to delay the big reveal, it was quite different here. The procession was going to be outdoors anyway so it seemed only natural to start all the nitty-gritty of makeup, hairstyle, and last-minute stitching of gowns right in the streets!

Local Spectators

Since the town center is not that big, I happened to view the procession more than once as it weaved through several streets the whole afternoon, passing by landmarks like the town hall, numerous old houses, and the public market. Here, people still intentionally flocked to where the revelry was unlike in some cities in mainland Luzon where I hardly saw the beginning and the end of the whole event.

The RORO vessel arriving in Boac
The town hall of Sta. Cruz
Maniwaya Island's White Beach
An old local waiting for the santacruzan to pass by her home in Sta. Cruz's town proper
Arriving at the vanishing Palad Sandbar

Even the old folks who could no longer afford to stand outside right across their doorsteps settled to patiently wait by their windows just to get a glimpse of the once-a-year procession. For all I know, some of them might have even walked the same streets as young participants in the same celebration decades ago.

Flamboyant Male Escorts

The only new practice that I've seen being done here like in Metro Manila is the way the perception of male escorts has evolved. They can now be dressed up in more than just the traditional barong Tagalog as some of the guys I saw here were clad in flamboyant fabrics and colors that seem to rival the female participants for attention. Indeed, times have changed.

Being in Sta. Cruz for a layover started as a nondescript schedule for me in Marinduque as I was only there with friends for our target beach getaway in the town's island village of Maniwaya where we planned to visit the vanishing Palad Sandbar. It was made memorable with the chance to see its very own version of santacruzan and it can't get more authentic than that.

Check out my other recommended accommodation in Sta. Cruz -- Marikit-Na Beach Resort on Maniwaya Island.

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Marikit-Na Beach Resort on Maniwaya Island
Check out my other Marinduque-related blog posts:

More Photos Below:

The beachfront villa view from Marikit-Na Beach Resort on Maniwaya Island
The calm waters to view from the RORO vessel en route to Marinduque
One of the old houses in Sta. Cruz
Our booked fan room via Dewey Hotel
Mongpong Island where a fluvial santacruzan is held every late May of the year
(top) At Lucena's Dalahican Port ; (bottom) Painful eye sensation due to the vessel engine
Boarding the RORO vessel for Marinduque in Lucena's Dalahican Port
The pleasant view on Maniwaya Island
The front desk of Dewey Hotel
En route to Marinduque
Views to see from the RORO vessel
Finally relaxing on Maniwaya Island's White Beach


  1. Wow! How can I get to the Marikit-Na Beach Resort on Maniwaya Island. It's a crystal clear beach.

    1. If you're coming from Manila, board the Dalahican Port-Lucena-bound Jacliner Bus which has a terminal along EDSA in Kamias near GMA-7 in Timog. From Dalahican Port, board a RORO vessel that's bound for Boac, Marinduque. Once in Boac, ride a tricycle or van for Buyabod Port of Sta. Cruz. Contact Marikit-Na Beach Resort to fetch you with a chartered boat ride as passenger boats at the port don't have a fixed sched. Know more, including the contact info of the resort on this blog post >>


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