Flores De Mayo

Traditionally, Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) in the Philippines is usually equated with a Santacruzan Festival or a procession of "sagalas" with their consorts.  However, the real essence of the Flores is that it is a festival that is held for the whole month of May in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, while a Santacruzan refers to the pageant on the last day of Flores de Mayo,  where pretty young ladies (usually from prominent families) dressed in traditional Filipino attire are paraded to represent the different virtues of the Blessed Mother. An Hermana Mayor, usually someone from the community or barangay takes care of the whole procession where devotees follow the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary praying the rosary and singing songs.  The Santacruzan was practiced more in the Tagalog provinces of Luzon than in the Visayas and Mindanao. And perhaps because of it's extravagance, this more than a hundred-years old cultural tradition done in honour of St. Helena (known as Reyna Elena), mother of Constantine the great for finding the Cross of Jesus in Jerusalem, is no longer as commonly seen today as in the past.

Here in our small city of Silay in Negros Occidental, our Flores de Mayo tradition is more parish-based than community-based. This summer, our parish catechists gathered 140 high school and undergraduate volunteers and trained them for 10 days to teach catechism to young children in their areas for the whole month of May.  The culminating activity was a procession of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with more than a thousand children in attendance, ending with a mass and a coronation of the Blessed Mother.  Out of the different zones/areas covered by the classes, eight young girls qualified to represent the virtues of the Blessed Mother and one of them was chosen to take on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  These young girls were dressed simply in Mary-like costumes, carrying the symbol of their virtues which they offered at the altar. 

This tradition of my parish in focusing on catechism classes for the children and the teaching of the virtues of Mary rather than just the pageantry of the Santacruzan gives the month of May more meaning and substance for both the children and the volunteers.  Ave Maria!


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