Flores de Mayo

  Filipinos like to celebrate fiestas. In fact they are commemorated all year round most especially during May. May is the merriest month of the year. It is the season of colorful festivals and Flores de Mayo is one such festival. Flores de Mayo is a catholic festival held during the whole month of May in the Philippines. It is celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The name is derived from the Spanish word “flores” which means flowers. It is believed that Flores de Mayo originated back in 1865 from the town of Malolos in Bulacan. During the last days of May, when rain begins to pour after a long period of dry spell, flowers magically bloom. Because of gratitude for the beneficial rains, the people gather the flowers and decorate the church altar. They would also make novenas and floral offerings to the Virgin Mary.

     During the last days of Flores de Mayo, a novena procession called Santacruzan is held. This festivity commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Rome, there was a joyful celebration for thanksgiving. Nine days of prayer or novena in honor of the Holy Cross precedes the Santacruzan. Then colorful pageant parade called Sagala follows.
     The participants for this pageant parade are arranged in this order:

Sagala is a religio-historical beauty pageant, it is one of the most  colorful  aspect of the Flores de Mayo
1. Methuselah - he is bearded, curved with age, riding a cart looking preoccupied with toasting some grains of sand in a pan over a fire. This is a reminder that everything in this world is passing and will end up like the dust which he is toasting.
2. Reyna Banderada - a young lady dressed in a long red gown carrying a yellow triangular flag. She represents the coming of Christianity.
3. Aetas - represent the state of the country before the coming of Christianity. These are the unconverted Filipino pagans.
4. Reyna Mora - represents the dominant religion before Christianity (feminine of Moro from the Moslem religion).
5. Reyna Fe - symbolizes the virtue of faith - the first of the theological virtues. She carries a cross.
6. Reyna Esperanza - symbolizes the virtue of hope - the second theological virtue. She carries an anchor.
7. Reyna Caridad - symbolizes the virtue of charity - the third theological virtue. She carries a red heart.
8. Reyna Abogada - the defender of the poor and the oppressed. She wears a black graduation cap (toga) and gown and she carries a big book.
9. Reyna Sentenciada - has her slim hands bound by a rope. She is the symbol of the innocents who have been convicted. She is escorted by two Roman soldiers.
10. Reyna Justicia - an image of the "mirror of justice". She carries a weighing scale and a sword.
11. Reyna Judith - representing Judith of Pethulia who saved her city from the Assyrians after she beheaded the cruel holoferns. She carries the head of the beheaded man on one hand and a sword on the other.
12. Reyna Sheba - who visited the famous King Solomon and was overwhelmed by his wisdom, power and riches, she carries a jewelry box.
13. Reyna Esther - the biblical Jewish who secured her countrymen from death and destruction through timely intervention with the King Xerxes. She carries a scepter.
14. Samaritana - the woman who Christ spoke to at the well. She carries a jug on her shoulder.
15. Veronica - the woman who wiped the face of Jesus. She carries a bandana printed with the three faces of Jesus.
16. Tres Marias 
a. Mary of Magdala - she carries a bottle of perfume; 
b. Mary, Mother of Christ - she carries a handkerchief; 
c. Mary, mother of James - she carries a bottle of oil.

17. Marian - celebrating the many titles of the Virgin Mary.
represented by eight girls wearing an angel costume
Each carries a letter to complete the word AVE MARIA
a . Divina pastora (Divine Shepherdess) - she carries a shepherdess' staff.
b . Reyna de las Estrellas (Queen of Stars) - she carries a wand with a star.
c . Rosa Mystica - she carries a bouquet of roses.
d . Reyna Paz (queen of peace) - she carries the symbol of peace.
e . Reyna de las Propetas - she carries an hour glass.
f .  Reyna del Cielo (Queen of Heaven) - she carries a flower. She has two (2) angels.
g . Reyna de las Virgines - she carries a rosary and is surrounded by two (2) little angels.
h . Reyna de las Flores (Queen of Flowers) - she carries a bouquet of flowers

18. Reyna Elena (Queen Helena) - She is the highlight of the procession, the legendary founder of the true Cross, represented by the small cross she carries. She is escorted by her son, Constantine, under a huge canopy of May flowers. Immediately behind her is a float carrying the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

   The procession is followed by the steady beat of rondalla or drum and lyre, playing and singing “Dios Te Salve”. The devotees walking with the procession hold lighted candles while singing the prayer.

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