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Fiestas, flowers, and elections this May

THE month of May is a special one for Filipinos. It is the month of fiestas, with many towns all over the country honoring their patron saints. It is the month of special festivals that draw visitors from all over the country and from around the world. It is the month of flowers, for the rains start falling in May after the hot summer months, and the scent of sampaguitas, ilang-ilang, roses, and other blooms – the Flores de Mayo – is in the air.

Many of these festivals have become tourist attractions, among them the Pista’y Dagat of Lingayen, Pangasinan, yesterday, May 1; the Carabao Festivals of Angono, Rizal, and Pulilan, Bulacan, on May 14; the Pahiyas of several towns in Quezon on May 15; the Fertility Rites of Obando, Bulacan, on May 17-19; the Tapusan sa Kawit in Cavite on May 30; and the Antipolo Pilgrimage in Rizal in the whole month of May.

Santacruzans are held in many towns, cities, and barangays, commemorating the search for the Holy Cross by Reyna Elena with her son Constantino. Local beauties in a host of roles – among them Reynas Banderada, Fe, Esperanza, Caridad, Mystica, Paz, Reynas del Cielo, de la Virgenes, de las Flores, etc. – go around the community, to the traditional music of a band and singing by those in the procession.

May 1 is celebrated the World over as Labor Day and so last Sunday, we had Job Fairs in various parts of the country, offering job opportunities to the thousands who just graduated from college. As for those who have yet to finish their courses, May is vacation time. The nation’s students and pupils will be going back to school in June; for now, it is a time to enjoy the beaches and life with the family and old friends in the old hometown.

But more than the fiestas and other celebrations, May is special this year for in about a week, we will be holding national and local elections to choose our government officials who will be serving in the next three to six years.

Filipinos love their elections; these are probably the single most important activity in our democracy.

This is May, possibly the most colorful time of the year for Filipinos. Many other activities will occupy us in the coming months – back to school in June, the All Saints’ Day exodus to the provinces in November, the long Christmas holiday in December, the air of hope and anticipation that comes with the New Year in January, the Holy Week when the entire nation pauses to pray in March. Then it will be May once again.