We are now in the last few days of May. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Aeronautical Services Administration (PAGASA) said there is now a stationary front over Northern Luzon, an indication of the approaching rainy season in the country.
The front is bringing scattered rains in parts of Northern Luzon, but will dissipate in a few days, permitting the return of the easterlies from the Pacific that bring warm and humid weather. Then these warm easterlies will give way to the southwest monsoon, which we know as the “habagat.”
The habagat winds are loaded with vapor from the seas southwest of us. As they reach our country, they rise to the cooler air above our islands, then drop their load of rains, starting in the western parts of the country, including Metro Manila. The rainy season then begins in the Philippines – anytime between this last week of May and the first week of June.
This month of May is coming to a close but because of of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that stopped all normal activity in the country, the many fiestas associated with this month have passed without any celebration this year. People cannot even go churches for Sunday Masses; they could not possibly gather in plazas and in their homes for the traditional feasts, concerts, and marching bands.
Notably missing this year were the Flores de Mayo and Santacruzans that are so much a part of Filipino life and tradition. In previous years, in this last week of May, there would be a grand Santacruzan in Metro Manila featuring some of the country’s movie queens as Reyna Elena and other traditional characters of the evening procession.
We miss many other fiestas celebrated in various parts of the country in May — the Pista’y Dayat of Lingayen, Pangasinan; the Carabao Festivals of Angono, Rizal, and Pulilan, Bulacan; the Pahiyas of Quezon; the famous fertility rites of Obando, Bulacan; the pilgrimage to Antipolo, Rizal. These are only some of the many festivals in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao that could not be celebrated this month.
The rainy season, at least, will come as it has always come at this time of the year. As for the traditional May festivals, it will all depend on how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last. It may well still be around for months and years, until a cure and a vaccine are found.
We hope that it will be soon so that we can begin rebuilding our lives. And we can start celebrating our fiestas and our festivals like the ones we missed in this month of May.