Welcome to My Site
If this is your first visit, welcome! This site is devoted to my life experiences as a Filipino-American who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1960. I came to the US as a graduate student when I was 26 years old. I am now in my early-80's and thanks God for his blessings, I have four successful and professional children and six grandchildren here in the US. My wife and I had been enjoying the snow bird lifestyle between US and Philippines after my retirement from USFDA in 2002. Please do not forget to read the latest national and International News in this site . I have also posted some of my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos in this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing on your copyrights. Cheers!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Month of May in the Philippines
Today is the start of the May Flowers Festival or the Flores de Mayo Festival in the Philippines. This Festival lasting for the whole month is in honor of Mary, the Virgin Mother. This is celebrated in all the towns in the Roman Catholic parish churches in the Philippines. However, the celebration of this Festival that I will always remember are the celebrations in my hometown in Iloilo when I was growing up and the one in Marinduque a few years ago when my mother-in-law was the Hermana. The Hermana was the over-all chairperson for the whole month of festivities which included a daily offering of flowers to the Virgin Mary along with the recitation of the Rosary. The month is culminated with a Parade and Dance participated by the whole town. During the Gala Dance, the Rigodon de Honor is danced by the prominent officials and matrons of the town.
The Santacruzan refers to the pageant on the last day of Flores de Mayo, held in honor of Reyna Elena and Constantine finding the True Cross in Jerusalem.
The following video reminds me of my childhood years in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo when My late mother was also very active with our local parish church.
The Sagala A Sagala is a religio-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns, and even in small communities throughout the Philippines during the month of May. One of the most colorful aspects of this festival, the pageant depicts the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Many movie and television personalities participate in the events and are featured in major sagala. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards and has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love, and romance. Prior to the Santacruzan, a novena is held in honor of the Holy Cross.
The procession itself commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Reyna Elena and her son, the newly-converted emperor Constantine. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Constantinople, there was a joyful celebration for thanksgiving.
Reyna Eléna (Queen Helena) - the last member of the procession, she represents Helena of Constantinople who found the True Cross; this is alluded to by her attribute, a small cross or crucifix that she carries in her arms. This considerably prestigious role is usually awarded to the most beautiful girl participating in the pageant. In some communities, the identity of the woman who will portray the Reyna Eléna is kept a secret until the day of the procession. Constantíno - the escort of Reyna Eléna; traditionally a young boy representing the Emperor Constantine.
The procession is accompanied by the steady beat of the rondalla, playing and singing the Hail Mary ("Dios Te Salve"). The devotees walking with the procession hold lighted candles in their hands and sing the prayer as they go along.
After the procession, there is a pabítin that serves as a culminating activity for all the children to enjoy. A Pabítin is a square trellis to which goodies (candies, fruits, small trinkets, etc.) are tied with strings. This trellis in turn is tied to a rope and is suspended on a strong branch or pole. Children then gather under the trellis as the it is slowly lowered. They then jump as high as they can to try to pick the goodies while someone jerks it up and down repeatedly until all the goodies are gone. It is customary for males attending the Santa Cruzan wear the traditional Barong Tagalog and that the females wear any Filipiniana-inspired dress. Pabitin is similar to the Mexican celebration of the Pinata.
This year celebration of the Flores de Mayo in the Philippines will probably be not as festive and peaceful because of the election on May 13. I just hope there will be no killings, murder and goons activities related to the election. But realizing the history of the elections in the Philippines dominated by family dynasties, vote buying, corrupt and greedy politicians, it will be a miracle if no killings will occur this month. I am praying and hoping for a peaceful election this year particularly in my second home-the beautiful and scenic island of Marinduque.