Listen more closely to the sound of the summer afternoons. The kids’ laughter
dies down. The bells peal softly, and the church pews are filled with little angels.
The month of May marks the Flowers of May Festival, a celebration characterized by the offering of flowers to the Virgin Mary. Churches and chapels are flocked by kids, some in satin white or blue dresses attached with feathery wings.
Flores de Mayo is a month-long activity for the kids. Usually, early afternoons are spent with the young catechists who serve as teachers. Classes are held in chapels, in the school grounds, or in any shady place. The kids are divided in two – the post communicants and pre-communicants.
Head of the Flores de Mayo catechists of Our Lady of Sacred Heart Parish Church Mrs. Praxedes Marañong (or Nang Cheding as she is fondly called) says it is important to train the catechists. “Nag-hold mi og seminar. Two days. Kung unsay itudlo sa mga dagko-dagko na nga mga bata, ug kung unsa ang para sa mga bata pa kayo.” The older kids would be taught bible stories, the ten commandments, and other bible verses and teachings to live by. The younger ones will be taught how to make the sign of the cross, how to say a thank-you-prayer, or an evening prayer. Nang Cheding adds that Flores de mayo classes include a lot of singing and dancing, “Ang kanang mga bata, sturyahan na nimo, dayon tudluan nimo og mga sayaw ug kanta. Ma-catch ma na nimo ilang attention unya mas mahinumduman nila ang imong gipangtudlo.”
After classes would be the carrying of the letters A-V-E M-A-R-I-A towards the side of the church altar, just in front of the Holy Virgin. The kids are very much eager with this little procession, just before they settle down for the Holy Rosary and the mass. And just as the Holy Communion finishes, the kids in angel costumes would get ready with again another little procession, where they carry flowers and sing songs to the Holy Virgin. In Our Lady of Sacred Heart Parish Church, the offering of flowers comes with a big basket carried by the angels, unlike the common small, individual baskets carried by the kids in other parishes. It is a pretty little sight, with angels leading the line of churchgoers for the offering of flowers.
Eve Nemenzo, mother of Nicole who just joined Flores de Mayo for the first time this summer, says she wants to see her little Nicole join the line of angels, “Gusto ko nga maka-experience siya ani – as an angel.” Nicole affirms that she likes preparing for the afternoon in church, “Ganahan ko sa akong wings ug sa dress and flowers.”
Honey Cabales’ daughter on the other hand, is very enthusiastic about Flores de Mayo. “Ganahan man jud siya magkanta-kanta. Siya mismo, excited basta May na. So gipaapil jud nako siya.”
Rosario Israel is proud of little granddaughter Mary Erin Laurence, “Through this, makahalad siya og bulak sa Birhen. Erin, now in her second time with Flores de Mayo, shares that she likes to be able to offer flowers, “Ganahan ko mag-angel para nay bulaklak. Next year, mo-apil gihapon ko sa Flores.”
Nang Cheding emphasizes that Flores de Mayo is significant in the teaching of values and faith to kids, “Diri, matudluan sila kinsa ang Ginoo, unsa ang Ginoo, ug nganong nay Ginoo.”
Such summer classes help in shaping good kids. More to that, they get to learn with their playmates – their playtime extended with the more important lessons in life.
May afternoons around the country come with flowers with beautiful summer scent, and filled with charmed voices singing – little angels with smiling faces and light hearts.