We will miss many Maytime processions

Published May 1, 2020, 12:42 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


It is the first  day of  May, a special month  for Filipinos  for it is the time of the Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo , a festival in honor of the Virgin Mary introduced by the Spaniards in the 19th century and has since become A BIG part of tradition in many parts  of  the  Philippines.

Nine days of prayer precede  the  Santcruzan, which commemorates the search for the Holy Cross in Jerusalem  by Queen  Helena  (Reyna Elena) and her son,  Emperor Constantine (Constantino),  who then  brought it to Rome.    The prettiest girls of the town, city, or village portray  the traditional characters of the Sanacruzan,  among them Reynas  Banderada, Mora, Fe,  Caridad, Abogada, Sentenciada, Justicia, Judith, Sheba, Esther,  Samaritana,  and Veronica, with Reyna  Elena and her son at the end of the evening  procession, accompanied by devotees holding lighted candles. At the end of the procession is a float bearing the image of the Virgin Mary and a brass band playing “Dios te salve, Maria.”

Unfortunately, however, we may not see this festival  in many towns under lockdown because of the  COVID-19  pandemic.  So many other church gatherings,  including Sunday Masses, have had to be cancelled because of  the ban on mass gatherings that may help spread the coronavirus that has already caused so many deaths in the country and around the world.

Because of the pandemic, Holy Week  had to be observed this year without such traditional activities as the  Visita Iglesia.   Muslims cannot gather for traditional Ramadan rites.  Next   month, on  June  12, the Philippines will celebrate  the 122nd anniversary of  the proclamation of the First Philippine Republic by President  Emilio Aguinaldo  in 1898. Will  COVID-19  pandemic be over by then,  to allow us to gather  at Rizal Park and in Kawit, Cavite,  in celebration?

The following  month, July, will  be critical for Americans, who have always celebrated their July Fourth  Independence Day in a big way  with parades and fireworks.  But  US deaths  hit 216,808 last Wednesday,  exceeding the number  of Americans who died in  the Vietnam  War.  While some US  states  led by Georgia announced  they would  soon begin lifting restrictions, there is fear that COVID-19 infections and  deaths  will continue for sometime  in many  other states.

Many towns and cities in the Philippines will miss the annual  Flores de Mayo  Santacruzans  this month,  Even  if the enhanced  community quarantine  (ECQ) in Metro Manila   is lifted  on May 16, the restrictions on movement and the  call for social distancing will be  only gradually lifted, with  an eye  out  for   any new infections that may result  from the easing of restrictions.

We are likely to  miss many Maytime  processions, for we are still in the middle of lockdown in Metro Manila, but we hope that  with  efforts of our medical  frontliners in our hospitals and emergency quarantine  sites  and our people’s compliance with the ECQ restrictions, the danger will soon pass and we can begin a slow return to life as we know it in Metro Manila and the rest of the country.