LONDON - A group of young British Filipinos joined the Santacruzan celebration of a Filipino community in the northwest capital to honor their heritage and the Catholic religion.
Filipinos from various groups in northwest London gathered at the Church of the Five Precious Wounds in Stonebridge to celebrate the Philippine traditions of Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan.
The religious festival included colorful flower offerings to the Virgin Mary, as well as a mass led by Filipino priest Fr Cerino Potrido.
“It’s our way of making each other happy, and as well as enriching the bayanihan spirit of each Filipino here in the UK. We are united as one, even for just events like this. You can see all Filipinos uniting and helping each other,” enthused Mervic Monocillo, president of the Brent Filipino Chaplaincy Community of Stonebridge and Harlesden, who organized the event.
“And also with the children, for them to experience how it is, because they haven’t experience what we have experience before. We would like them to experience the beauty of it, wearing clothes and being pretty on the day, and most specially it’s for the honor and glory of the blessed virgin Mary.”
The Stonebridge celebration featured a short procession in the streets of the local area. Dozens of second and third generation British Filipinos participated at the event, from little children dressed as angels to teenagers in gowns. Some adults also donned various types of the Philippine national costume.
The event also featured a salo-salo of traditional Filipino food, as well as performances of song and dance from local talents and groups.
“Everyone gets dressed up, everyone gets into the lively mood. Everyone practices a lot, there’s a lot of contribution. People dress up, they all look good. I want to know a bit about where I’m coming from, and it’s really fun to get involved in different things of where I’m from, it’s really fun,” said Naomi Mercado Osei, a 13-year-old student featured as Reyna Elena.
Sophia Padilla Gatinao, a 17-year-old student, also dressed as Reyna Elena, added: “I just love the fact that everyone gathered altogether, even though we’re from different areas, we still gather together. We may be separated at times and be in different countries, but we still carry our culture and our religion together.”
Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan are among the longest traditions practiced by Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad. It honors the Catholic image of the Virgin Mary, and commemorates Queen Elena and Emperor Constantine in their search for the relic of the cross of Jesus.