Flores de Mayo: A celebration of bountiful life and an offering
Note: This is originally posted in my JPGMag.com account in May 2009 as sharing my personal thoughts about spring season and the annual event in the Philippines, Flores de Mayo. This is not late to share this vibrant and exciting seaon of the year which is still evident where I live now. It is the best time of the year when our surroundings are painted with vibrant and beautiful colours.
WHEN I WAS A LITTLE KID, I used to attend a very special gathering being held at 6pm in the house of my extended grandmother (cousin of my grandfather). As a devotion, she organised this every year and invited young kids to join her in celebrating Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) – in honor of the Virgin May.
It was funny (Im smiling while writing this) because every kid has to bring the best and beautiful flower arrangement and of course I will impress everyone, especially my Granny!
Since we lived in the countryside, it was easy to find wild flowers, including ornamental leaves to make my flower offering elegant to be admired by the beloved Jesus’ mother. Well, that was long long time ago and I think this is not popular nowadays but there are still places in the countryside especially in the Visayas region that practise this flower offering for 31 days. By the way, the last day is the best part when we have to dress up neatly for the final celebration – native food and drinks! One more thing, part of this offering, we have to recite prayers and of course my favourite part – praising by singing!
I am a grown up man now but still this Filipino flower festival attracts more people around the world to witness its celebration especially “Santa Cruzan” in honor of Reyna Elena and the “Sagala” – the beauty pageant. Again, when I was young, I was once part of this procession – sword bearer! One of the highlights after the procession is the “Pabitin” – a square trellis full of goodies (mostly candies/sweets) for children to catch while the trellis is tight and suspended by a rope. Children have to jump as much as they can to grab these goodies hanging in the trellis.
This is a joyful and colourful event that every Filipino loves to celebrate. You may wondering why Filipinos embrace this event as part of their culture. Well, Philippines (Filipinas, as the name derived from the Spanish colonisers) was first ruled by Spaniards for more than 300 years and this is also the reason why the country is the only place in Southeast Asia with highest Catholic population. Christianity is the biggest influence from Spain and almost 40 percent of the dialects (native language mostly in Visayas and Mindanao part) derived from Spanish words.
When I was in college (undergrad), Spanish course/subject is a requirement for a degree and have to be taken for four terms (Spanish 1-4). I got the highest marks in the class but believe me I cant even construct a complete Spanish sentence. “No habla Espanol”… but I can count numbers …”uno, dos, tres, quatro, sinco, seis, siete, otso, nieve, dyes…” When I visited Madrid last September 2008, I feel at home and the accent of my Spanish friends reminded me of being a Filipino. Spanish people are warm, friendly and very polite when they speak! Hand shakes are not popular to greet friends, but having a “beso-beso” ( I miss you…) act of giving a kiss on both cheeks (as both cheeks touch each other) and then make a loud “tsup, tsup” sound. If you did watch the film, Volver (The Return) as Penolope Cruz is the main cast, then you will understand what Im saying.
Im far far away from home but I could still feel the essence of Flores de Mayo where I live now. It coincides with the time when flowers are blooming everywhere; and trees are green and the daffodils spread out its yellow flowers.
Spring they call it – the best season of the year when our surroundings are painted with living vibrant and beautiful colours!
When I visited the Palm House inside Botanic Gardens (Belfast) in April, it is indeed inspiring to see these variety of plants with flowers! The Palm House is a big roof-glass garden structure that contains different species of flowering plants, including palm trees. It is always spring inside the Palm House all year round. The Palm House is one of the attractions of Botanic Gardens – one of the biggest nature parks in Belfast. Not to be missed while visiting Northern Ireland…