BY JUN RELUNIA –
I remember 63 years ago at my Lola Iliang’s house in Calabanga, Camarines Sur in the Philippines, children including my sister Mila, brother Jaime and I gather in front of the statue of Our Blessed Mother.
We sang : Dulci ma Virgen. Del cielo deli cia. La flor que te fresco. Recibe profecia.
At the same time children throw beautiful flowers to Our Blessed Mother.
This flower offering at my Lola Iliang place continues every afternoon from 3:00 pm for the whole month of May referred to as Flores de Mayo. The yearly event starts with the recitation of the holy rosary, novena then singing and offering flowers to Our Blessed Mother. After each flower offering, children participants were rewarded with the traditional andam goodwill individual bags containing refreshments and snacks..
At the last Sunday of May, the Flores de Mayo becomes a big celebration with the whole community in the two barrios of Calabanga joining the celebration. It is like a fiesta at our place. There will be mass during the Flores de Mayo. The mass usually ends at lunchtime where the community have lunch together for grand fiesta – sometimes a baka ( cow) will be slaughtered for lunch.
Here in Australia particularly in Penrith, the Flores de Mayo is being held on 1st Saturday of May every year at St Nicholas of Myra Church. Fr Joe Manjaly, parish priest of St Nicholas of Myra was the mass celebrant with the Australian Devotees of Our Lady of Penafrancia ADOLP) association as the host of the Flores de Mayo.
Whilst Flores de Mayo is celebrated throughout the month of May in the Philippines, the Flores de Mayo in Penrith is only held on the 1st Saturday of May.
Flores de Mayo in Penrith ,however, follows the same practice as in the Philippines – recitation of the holy rosary, novena, singing and offering of flowers to Our Blessed Mother – Our Lady of Penafrancia, and participation of children and a grand fellowship.
Due to Covid 19 restrictions, there was no Flores de Mayo in Penrith last year.
This year , the Flores de Mayo at St Nicholas of Myra, Penrith resumed on first of May.
Twenty (20) children dressed in white while sang and offered flowers to Our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Penafrancia. After the mass, children were offered little snack in bag as token of appreciation.
Grand fellowship adhering to Covid 19 restrictions followed at the parish hall.
The mass celebration for Flores de Mayo this year featured the blessing of the April and May birthday celebrants and a prayer of healing led by Fr Joe Manjaly, joined by churchgoers who are sick . They were ministered by the touch of the Manto (dress) of Our Lady of Penafrancia and blessed by Fr Joe Manjaly.
Parents allowed this writer to publish the photos of children who participated in the Flores de Mayo. Viva El Divino Rostro. Viva La Virgen.
Jun Relunia is a devotee and founder of the association Australian Devotees of Our Lady of Penafrancia (ADOLP