Goodbye April! Welcome May!

NATION says goodbye today to April as it welcomes May the month the earth blooms in the Philippines and the people rejoice.

May starts off with Labor Day, a celebration which is observed worldwide. In our country, this day is usually marked by government announcing plans or promises for the labor force.

True to its tradition Palace has said that there will be good news for workers on Labor Day that President Benigno Aquino III would announced on Sunday.

But in yesterday’s news reports, the Department of Labor and Employment threw cold water to workers’ mounting demand for salary increases on May 1 by saying that no chance for any wage increase because the earliest public hearing is set to May 2.

Besides Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Aquino had already declared that he would leave the decision on pay adjustments to the regional wage boards although he could give instruction to accelerate the process.

This brings us to the possibility that Malacanang’s pronouncement that the government is coming out with Labor Day gift that may probably deal on contractualization law reform some perks for workers.

The first Labor Day celebration held in the Philippines took place during the American occupation of the Philippines on May 1, 1903. In a mammoth rally in front of Malacanang Filipino workers (numbering 150,000) demanded that the sitting American military governor then to issue a decree implementing an eight-hour labor law and fixing minimum daily wage for Filipinos.

Since then Labor Day is an annual celebration to honor Filipino workers both at home and overseas for their social and economic achievements.

May is the 5th month of the year with 31 days. Its zodiac signs are Taurus, the Bull (April 20 to May 20) and Gemini, the Twins (May 21 to June 20).

The month of May was probably named after Maia Majesta, the Roman goddess of spring. The people of ancient Rome celebrated the first day of May by honoring Flora, the goddess of flowers.

May 1 also marks the anniversary of the merger of England, Scotland, and Wales in 1707 into what is known today as the Great Britain. It was also on May 1, 1898 Admiral Dewey won the Battle of Manila Bay.

In the Philippines May is a month of flower festivals (Florist de Mayo), and quasi religious festivity called Santacruzan. During Flower festival little girls offered bouquet of flowers to the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the church altar.

Often the fairest maiden of the village or barangay was chosen queen of May. Sometimes May king may also be chosen. These two led the village dance ball and ruled over the festivities.

On the other hand, Santacruzan is a procession commemorating St. Helena’s finding the “True Cross”, preceded by a (nine-day) novena in honor of the Holy Cross. On the ninth day, usually on the weekend, the Santacruzan is held. The Reina Elena, accompanied by a little boy representing King Constantine, and the other Sagalas representing biblical characters and the attributes of the Blessed Virgin, walk under gaily decorated arches.

Among most-awaited May festivals are:

May 1 to 31 – Antipolo pilgrimage, Antipolo, Rizal, a month-long celebration that brings devotees and pilgrims to venerate the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage enshrined in Antipolo Cathedral.

May 14, procession of carabao carts in Pulilan, Bulacan bearing a myriad of local produce is held. Prizes are awarded to the strongest and most beautifully decorated carabao; Pulilan Carabao Festival in Pulilan, Bulacan. Hundreds of festively adorned carabaos are paraded by by farmer-owners on the street leading to the church. They are made to knell down before the image of San Isidro Labrador, farmers’ patron saint.

May 15 – Pahiyas Festivals in Tayabas, Sariaya, Lukban, all towns of Quezon Province. Homes are decked with kipings multi-colored paper thin, leaf-shaped rice kripect and harvested vegetables, trade fair, civic parades and religious processions in honor of San Isidro Labrador.

May  17 to 19 – Obando Fertility Rites in Obando, Bulacan. Three-day fiesta celebration is held in honor of San Pascual Baylon, St. Clara, and Nuestra Senora de Salambaw. Childless couples, thankful parents, grateful farmers and fishers dance along the streets together with colorfully-dressed women to pray for children and a good harvest.

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