REYNA ELENA: Connie Hernandez, the Reyna Elena, escorted by her classmate, Christian Aggari, takes a few measured steps during the brief procession inside the gym of the St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church last Saturday (May 30) (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
ANGELS & SAGALAS: The Angels and Sagalas join Reyna Elena (Connie Hernandez) and Reyna Emperatriz in the photo session with Philippine Consul General Generoso D. G. Calonge (extreme left, third row) and Fr. Paul Wachdorf (to ConGen’s left) . (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
HERMANOS & HERMANAS: The Hermanos (brothers) and Hermanas (sisters), sponsors of Santacruzan (procession of the Holy Cross) pose with Fr. Paul Wachdorf (seated, extreme left), Pastor of St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church, and Philippine Consul General of the Midwest Generoso D.G. Calonge (seated, extreme right). Among those in photo are Tom Buenvenida (third from right), the event organizer, Buevenida’s wife, Connie Buenvenida (extreme right) and Dona L. Hernandez, D.V.M. (behind Fr. Wachdorf),.(JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
FILIPINOS OF ST. GREGORY:Members of The Filipinos of St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church come together during Santacruzan Festival and Celebration inside the Church gym last Saturday, May 30. Among those in photo are Fr. Paul Wachdorf (sixth from left, seated), Church Pastor; Consul General Generoso D. G. Calonge (to Fr. Wachdorf’s left), Tom Buenvenida (to ConGen’s left), event organizer, and Tom’s wife, Connie Buenvenida (to Tom’s left) and Dona L. Hernandez (extreme left, seated) Gina and Mandy Ibardaloza (third & fourth from left, seated), all past presidents of The Filipinos of St. Gregory, Ray & Angie Lariosa (extreme left, first row, standing). (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
CHICAGO (JGL) – After 27 years, the traditional Santacruzan (procession of the Holy Cross) Festival and Celebration brought by Filipinos in the north side of Chicago, Illinois was confined indoor when heavy rains poured on May 30.
Dona L. Hernandez, D.V.M., past president of the group called Filipinos of St. Gregory said the group decided to hold the procession inside the St. Gregory The Great Parish Church gymnasium.
Connie Hernandez, this year’s Reyna Elena, could only grin and bear it when she and her escort, Christian Aggari, her classmate in the fourth year this coming fall at Lane Tech High School, went over the motion of trotting around the hall.
Both Connie and Christian just arrived from a tour of Japan for nine days sponsored annually by a Japanese senator.
He welcomes high school students from the United States who study Nipongo, the Japanese language.
But what makes this year’s Santacruzan stands out from past celebrations was the presence of Philippine Consul General of the Midwest Generoso D.G. Calonge and some members of his staff to witness the event.
According to Tom Buevenida, a proud Santacruzan organizer, no Consul from past celebrations had graced the occasion. Santacruzan honors the finding of the Holy Cross in the year 326 A.D. by Reyna (Queen) Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great.
Fr. Paul Wachdorf (pronounced wak-dorf), the pastor of the church, was thankful to Consul General Calonge for taking the time to join the celebration. Fr. Wachdorf also celebrated his 40th year ordination as a priest during the weekend.
For his part, Consul General Calonge also paid tribute to Queen (Reyna) Helena for finding the true cross that prompted Rome to adopt Christianity as a state religion.
At the same time, he also invited the audience to join the 10th Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors (ACGTD) Tour to Manila and Cebu in the Philippines from July 6-10 this year.
He also urged them to apply to become dual citizens so they can vote in the 2016 Philippine presidential and senatorial elections.
As in the past, after the procession, participants sampled Filipino dishes like pansit, fried chicken, egg rolls, and other delectable dishes including desserts while they listen to Filipino songs and music.
Parlor games were likewise held, after which, participants danced to the music beat.
The procession of the Holy Cross was a replication of the Christian tradition in the Philippines that is usually held in the early evening in the rural and even urban areas. A big bright cross is carried by people in front of the procession to serve as a torch to illuminate the way.
It is also celebration of thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary for giving the folks rich harvest.
For the young people, it also gives parents a chance to dress up the Angels and Sagalas in their Sunday’s best or a formal wear, notably Barong Tagalog. While the young at heart, who normally act as sponsors called Hermanos and Hermanas, would contribute in cash and in kind to bankroll the event’s expenses such as the food that should feed not only the members but also the guests.