May is always the most festive of the Philippine summer months.
Yearly in May, we celebrate Flores de Mayo -- in various genre and with various gender -- to commemorate Reyna Elena and Constantine's search for the Holy Cross.
In May, we also honor San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers and harvest, with Quezon's celebration of Pahiyas and Bulacan's Pulilan Carabao Festival. For those seeking a different sort of harvest, Obando commemorates it's fertility rites in honor of San Pascual Baylon, Santa Clara de Assisi and the Virgen de Salambao.
The first of May is also dedicated as Labour's Day in honor of all the workers of the world.
On May 10 this year, we elect our 15th President.
There is therefore a lot of things to look forward to this month, and all of them bring excitement and a promise of change.
A sweet-smelling fragrance of freshly-cooked kasuy, an even sweeter scent of ripe mangoes (usually eaten with Antipolo's famous suman sa ibos), the aromatic smell of burned wicks from candles used in daily processions -- those are the scents that bring me back to the Antipolo of my childhood.
My childhood was also filled with memories of devotees traveling to Antipolo every May to pay homage to Nuestra Senora Dela Paz y Buenviaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage). It starts with an Alay Lakad from Quiapo Church to Antipolo Cathedral, a walk that starts on April 30 and lasts until the next day.
Because May is a vacation period for kids, we would find ways to earn a small living. We would either volunteer (for one peso coin) as traffic patrol to guide the vehicles where to park, or sell 'samalamig' (cold drinks of various concoctions) in the plaza, or vend candle sticks, kasuy and suman. I think it was during my childhood that 'takatak' (the sounds made by clacking a wooden box containing various brands of cigarettes, accompanied by Halls candy) became popular. We were never embarrassed to take those 'low-end' jobs. We were entrepreneurs at a young age! And on our first day in school the next month, we would proudly show our purchases from our May 'summer jobs'. During my time, it's mortifying if you tell your friends that you spend your summer whiling away time doing nothing.
I can't say if gone were those days because, for quite a long time now, I haven't been to Antipolo during May. I can only make a guess -- and I hope I'm wrong -- that with the advent of technology, kids nowadays would rather spend time online than on actual line. The best summer experience of a child and the sweetest too, prove if I'm wrong, can only be found outside the house. I surely did.
May will always be one of my most favorite months of the year because it conjures up images of time that is good and great and rewarding.