Childhood Memories of Flores De Mayo

When I was a kid, I looked forward to summer. Who didn’t? School is closed. Every day is spent playing outdoors and swimming. Also, my parents would take us to visit our grandparents in Eastern Samar during summer. And it goes without saying that we would have to drop by Tacloban and visit Gaizano and the Children’s Park. Gaizano was the only mall I knew of when I was a kid. I have fond memories of their kiddie rides.

There were lots of summer activities back home but the highlight of them all is the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May). Catholics and Aglipayans celebrate the Flores de Mayo every month of May to honor the Blessed Virgin. From what I recall this is a two-part tradition. One is the Flores and the other is the Santa Cruzan.

Back in my hometown, kids get excited for the Flores on hot summer afternoons. We wear white and pick flowers to offer to Virgin Mary. I remember my friends and I raiding our yards for flowers and sometimes our neighbors’ too. Santans in red, pink yellow and mostly, orange; hibiscus/gumamela, daisies and rosal are the usual choices. Bougainvilla not too often gets picked because it wilts easily. Roses are housewives’ treasures and therefore not up for sacrifice, not even for the Virgin.

Image source: alfredgalura.blogspot.com

Image source: alfredgalura.blogspot.com

Before the Flores starts, there usually is cathechism, which we can barely get through due to excitement. As the novices and seminarians rave about the harps and angels in heaven and the fire and unending wailing in hell, we squirm in our seats, tightly holding the bunch of flowers that are slowly wilting as lethargy creeps in with the afternoon sun. Sweaty hands try to straighten the creases that start to appear on starched dresses while carefully avoiding the menacing glare of the saints at the altar.

Our hearts start to swell as soon as cathechism concludes and the Flores commences. We hang in anticipation as the elders choose the kids who will be carrying the letters of the Ave Maria from the church entrance to the altar. The giant letters made of light blue and white crepe paper are the holy grail for the kids at the Flores.

Image Source: braincontour.com

Image Source: braincontour.com

Basically, mass is celebrated during Flores with more emphasis on the virtues of Virgin Mary. We also sing the Salve Regina, which is in Latin, and surprisingly get the words right. Looking back, we didn’t really understand what the prayer meant since it was in Latin or if we were pronouncing it right but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

After the mass, we would fall in line and are given treats. They used to give us galletas and candies. Depending on the mass sponsor, sometimes we get fancier pastries. And when I say fancy, as a five-year old, I meant bread with bright red or yellow filling.

At night, the celebration continues in the form of the Santa Cruzan. This is a processional novena still in honor of the Virgin. I remember the elders constructing a bahay kubo as a makeshift altar with the image of the Virgin surrounded with flowers, both fresh and crepe paper. During procession, the rosary is recited interspersed with Visayan songs for Mary. The part I like best is we get to carry bamboo torches. You know how in the movies, the townsfolk carry torches to burn the village witch? We kinda look like that except ours is a solemn procession with some overeager toddlers running around.

My friends and I at a Santa Cruzan circa '89

My friends and I at a Santa Cruzan circa ’89

After the novena, snacks are served. And on some nights, if you’re lucky, there is social dancing. Back then, no one was embarassed to dance. Regardless of age, size and dancing skills or lack thereof, the dance floor never lacked of participants, all in the name of fun and camaraderie.

The culmination of the Flores de Mayo is on the 31st where there’s a procession and mass. The sagala is no ordinary procession. This is some sort of religious pageant where good-looking ladies and gents of the community play biblical characters. This looks similar to a procession during town fiesta. Needless to say, this ends in a street party under a starry summer sky, all in the name of the Blessed Virgin.

Image source: atasteofasia.eu

Image source: atasteofasia.eu

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Half Of A Dream Kind Of Job

On April 10 just before midnight, I officially threw myself into the sea of job hunters. No, I did not quit my job nor am I dissatisfied with it. I was merely testing the waters as others might say. Plus it has been more than a year that I had been checking this certain company’s job openings, hoping for a vacancy that I’d be qualified for. And then last week, it finally happened. My excitement while updating my resume and carefully crafting my cover letter was accompanied by the guilt of some form of disloyalty to my current job.

This would sound defensive but the reason I want to work for this company is the desire to contribute more than just paying taxes. RepRisk is a “provider of dynamic business intelligence on environmental, social and governance risks for an unlimited universe of companies and projects. Its mission is to help clients achieve long-term success through transparency and risk management.” That’s a direct quote from their site. Basically, they have this database, which has a list of corrupt companies, especially those with environmental violations. They also have other tools that companies may utilize to ensure transparency and risk management. If you know me, you’d understand why I want to work with them.

On April 12th, I got a reply from Mr. Peter Ing, who just happens to be the Financial Data Provider & Sales Channel Manager in Zurich. Of course, you could just imagine my excitement when I saw I had an email from him. But my face fell as soon as I read its content.

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I was truly disappointed with the pay scale. For a company such as theirs, I was hoping for a higher figure. The offer’s ceiling is even lower than my current company’s offer back in 2009. As my friend, Red, had said (he also applied with RepRisk), “I’m not sure how they got the figure but it was really cheap.”

I didn’t know how to reply to Mr. Ing’s email so I didn’t. I figure I could wait until Monday to send a reply. Or better, maybe he won’t notice my lack of response from the sea of applicants. But no such luck because at 9:19 a.m. of the 15th, I saw a new email from him.

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So now I really had to reply. Not only would it be disrectful and unprofessional not to, I was also afraid to be blacklisted from the company. The problem was how to tell him I would not be pursuing the application because the pay is cheap, without me looking so financially motivated. But then again, me as a member of the labor force and yet also on a job hunt has indirectly tagged me as financially motivated. I settled with this short response.

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What I really wanted to tell Mr. Ing was this:

Even if I had not pointed it out, I’m pretty sure it was apparent that I’ve decided not to pursue my application because of the pay scale. I believe it was not commensurate to my skill set and experience. I really would like to join your company and could imagine a fulfilling career furthering the company’s advocacy in transparency in the corporate world, though that may sound like an oxymoron. I could imagine the job fulfilling my desire to do more for the community yet I have to be honest that I also believe in financial stability. I would not want to sacrifice that.

Nevertheless, thank you for considering my application. I hope you find a suitable candidate for the position. If not, you can always raise your offer and maybe we can talk again.