May is not only a month for taking a break and relaxing. It is also the month of merrymaking, the season of fiestas in the rich farming tradition of the Philippines. May is when we celebrate good harvest with flamboyant parades and processions, colorful banderitas or buntings, and mouthwatering sumptuous dishes and delicacies. It is the month when Filipinos celebrate the feast days of most patron saints.
Here are some of the May festivities that are eagerly awaited in towns and cities of the country.
Flores De Mayo
The Queen of Philippine Festivals, the Flores de Mayo, is literally translated as “Flowers of May”. Celebrated during the entire month of May, this festival is a Christian tradition in honor of the mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Believers claim that she brings about the helpful rain after a dry season so it is done in thanks for allowing the flowers to finally bloom after deprivation from water.
Children and young women dressed up in white bearing assorted colorful flowers in baskets offer them to the Virgin Mary every afternoon. As part of the ritual, the children also rain flower petals on the image of the Virgin Mary while the church choir sings the novena prayers.
Often mistaken as the Flores De Mayo, the Santacruzan, on the other hand, is the ritual pageant held on the last day of the Flores de Mayo that reenacts Queen Helena’s search for the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified. The town’s loveliest ladies donning couture gowns participate in a parade that features a carriage of the Virgin Mary and other characters in the saga of the search for the crucifixion cross.
As Quezon Province’s very own signature festival, the Pahiyas is a much-anticipated event held every second month of May. Dubbed as the Most Colorful Festival in the Philippines, it celebrates good harvest in the towns of Tayabas, Sariaya, Gumaca and Tiaong. In Lucban, tourists are welcomed with houses extravagantly decorated with colorful kiping, an accent decoration of the festival that takes the shapes of leaves made from steamed rice paste and hung in bamboo chandeliers.
Visitors of the festival get to experience the taste of delicacies and food products displayed in culinary stalls. They can also join the procession to honor St. Isidore.
The festivity is the annual harvest festival of the town of Sariaya, Quezon, in homage to Saint Isidore the Laborer, the patron saint of agriculture and good harvest.
Bagakay, or young bamboo branches, are adorned with giveaways for the town visitors to pluck. Houses are festooned with native and agricultural products such as woven hats and fans and fruit and vegetable harvests. The adornments and goodies are given away to festival participants as the procession of St. Isidore’s image winds around the town.
Mayohan sa Tayabas
In celebration of the rich Tayabas history, the city celebrates Mayohan sa Tayabas. It is a 10-day festivity commencing on May 6 and concluding on May 15. Each barangay presents its own baliskog or welcome arch to showcase the identity of each barangay community. Famed Tayabas delicacies such as suman (rice cakes) are given away to the town visitors.
The festival features street events attesting to the joyful merrymaking of Lucenahins. Local bands take to the stage while course, food, and booze in tents dot the streets. The Quezon Designers’ Association of the Philippines (QDAP) stages a couture fashion show and a colorful parade featuring huge and colorfully designed floats provides a crowd-drawing end to the festival.
Tying the threads of our Hispanic history and influence, these festivities serve as reminders of the fusion of cultures in the Filipino way of life. They are rooted from our historical past becoming more pronounced through the years of colonization that shaped who we are today.
These festivities are not only reminders of the hardships that our ancestors have gone through in the past but are also a celebration of our rich cultural identity that we must continue to preserve to this day to remind us of our Filipino-ness.