Note: This photo-essay appeared in a slightly different version in the 08-14 May 2015 issue of the FilAm Star, 'the newspaper for Filipinos in mainstream America' published in San Francisco,CA. This author/blogger is the Manila-based Special Photo/News Correspondent of the weekly paper.
“It’s May, it’s May, the merry month of May!” – Queen Guinevere in Camelot, the musical
May Day, first day of the merry month this year was Friday and it being Labor Day, an official holiday, there was a long weekend for a great escape to the fresher and cooler air of the countryside. We were on the road early in the morning, northbound traffic on the expressways was heavy from the metropolis all the way to Zambales, and service stations along the way were all crowded with people also going on vacation.
In Metro Manila, the militant labor and activist sectors were marching under the scorching sun toward Liwasang Bonifacio, the plaza by the Pasig named after the proletarian hero. Similar events in Baguio, Bicol and Davao were reported in the social media. They called for the enactment of a national minimum wage of Php16,000, and raised other issues such as the plight of OFWs like Mary Jane Veloso and US-Philippines relations like Oplan Bayanihan, among others. May Day ended with the burning of the effigy of President Benigno Aquino III on Mendiola.
Nuestra Señora de La Paz y Buen Viaje on board a banca for her
fluvial procession in La Paz, San Narciso, Zambales on the first
Saturday of May.
May Day happened to be the eve of the moveable feast, the first Saturday of the month, of the patroness of our coastal barangay in San Narciso, Zambales, the Nuestra Senora de La Paz y Buen Viaje, who we reverentially call Apo La Paz. The barangay is named in her honor – La Paz.
The barangay takes the religious aspect of the feast day seriously. An early morning holy mass is traditionally held along the shore before the Apo La Paz image is mounted on a boat for her fluvial procession on the West Philippine Sea. We were on board the boat that carried her. The boat is big and fitted to reach Scarbarough Shoal. A procession around the barangay was held in the early evening. Between these two religious activities, the fishing folks engaged in sea games: swimming and boat races, while their homes were open for feasts galore. In the old days, visitors came for the servings of dried fish called dalangdang, almost a rarity on the fiesta table these days.
May is fiesta time for supplications and thanksgiving in many parts of the country as well. The famous ones are in the tourism map: Pahiyas in Lukban, Quezon and Kalabaw Festival in Pullilan, Bulacan, which fall on the same date, 15 May, the feast of San Isidro Labrador, which is followed two days later by the three-day pintakasi in Obando for their three patron saints: Santa Clara, San Pascual Baylon and the Virgin of Salambao.
In Lukban, the houses are adorned with the harvests of the owner, fruits and vegetables, or products of their labor such as bags or hats from pandan leaves or anahaw, together with colorful rice kippings that look like leaves or petals. In Pullilan, the carabaos are stars of the day when they are made to kneel in front of the church during the procession. In Obando, people dance before San Pascual Baylon (17 May), patron for child bearing, Santa Clara (18 May), patroness of conceiving mothers, and the Virgin of Salambao (19 May), patroness of fishermen and farmers.
The calendars of villages, towns and cities in the country will certainly have the traditional Flores de Mayo and the Santacruzan celebrations. While the Flores remains very religious in character as involves floral offerings in church altars, the Santacruzan, to the dismay of church authorities, has been converted into other spectacle events.
UP Diliman Parada ng Parangal led by Chancellor Michael L. Tan
looked like a Santracruzan with decorated arches.
The University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) drew inspiration from the Santacruzan to open the Linggo ng Parangal on 04 May, when it held the Parada ng Parangal to celebrate “the triumphs and accomplishments of its constituents.”
UPD adapted the form, hence, like the Santacruzan, the parade featured sagalas, women in evening gowns, and escorts walking around the academic oval beneath hand-carried bamboo arches adorned with flowers. The pairs represented the 26 degree-granting units of the university.
To lend a festive air to the parade, there were marching bands and the Higantes from Angono. The musical nuances of a Philippine fiesta were provided by a rondalla and dance performances inspired by the karakol, the traditional devotional dancing procession.
The Linggo ng Parangal is the university’s week-long celebration of the excellence, accomplishments and dedicated service of its faculty, researchers, students, administrative staff and community.
On 06 May, the university held the Parangal sa Mga Mag-aaral to honor students who have earned a general weighted average of not lower than 1.45 for the last two semesters (the University Scholars), students who have distinguished themselves in various fields, and graduates who have made the top 10 and those who passed in various licensure examinations.
The University conferred appreciation and recognition of the dedicated service of employees who retired in 2014, and those who have been in active service for 40 years. A Parangal sa mga Retirado at Gawad Paglilingkod was held for this purpose on 07 May.
The Gawad Tsanselor held on 08 May was the highlight of the week. This highest recognition bestowed by the University for excellent and outstanding accomplishments in 2014 was given to 13 individuals: three professors, four researchers, one researcher in Filipino, four students and an administrative staff. This year, a community within the UPD campus also received the award.
The Natatanging Guro awardees were: Dr. Rizalinda L. de Leon and Dr. Henry N. Adorna, both from the College of Engineering, and Dr. Jose Ernie C. Lope from the Institute of Mathematics. The Natatanging REPS (Research and Extension Professional Staff) recipients were: Frederick C. Delfin (Natural Sciences Research Institute), Miguel Paolo P. Reyes (Third World Studies Center) and Sharon Maria S. Esposo-Betan (College of Engineering Library). This was a posthumous award to Dr. Amelia E. Punzalan (National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development).
The UP Filipiniana dance numbers were inspired by
the karakol, traditional devotional dancing procession.
The Natatanging Mag-aaral awardees were: Jhesset Thrina O. Enano (College of Mass Communication), Raphael Aaron A. Letaba (C.E.A. Virata School of Business), John Paul M. Sawali (College of Engineering) and Tiffany Grace C. Uy (College of Science).
Dr. Apolonio B. Chua was Natatanging Mananaliksik sa Filipino while Pablo C. Navarro was Natatanging Kawani. Both are from the College of Arts and Letters. Hardin ng Dona Aurora was chosen as Natatanging Pook.
The Gawad Tsanselor trophy is a sculpture of the Oblation as a work in progress. The inspiration for the trophy is Michaelangelo’s “Slaves” sculpture. It symbolizes the “continuing pursuit of excellence and continuing service to the University and the nation. It also means that a recipient’s bond with the University is never ending.”
Alas, there was no trophy or championship belt for the “continuing pursuit of excellence” on the boxing ring for Manny Pacquiao, dubbed the ‘Pambansang Kamao,’ after he was outpunched by Floyd Mayweather during the ‘fight of the century’ ('dud of the century' to the disappointed) in Las Vagas on Sunday, 03 May, Manila time. Many Filipinos still find it hard to accept the judges’ unanimous decision and that terrible loss to Pinoy pride.