Kneeling carabaos (water buffalos) are the main attraction of the fiesta in Pulilan town in Bulacan province
Many towns and villages across the country are now in the thick of celebrating the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May)
, a centuries-old Catholic festival in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Girls gather flowers and decorate churches, the streets are lined with bunting, and community games and parades are held, complete with brass bands.
The Flores de Mayo is capped by the Santacruzan (Festival of the Holy Cross)
to commemorate the finding of the Cross of Jesus by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.
Philippine townsfolk choose the prettiest ladies, dress them in gowns and hold a procession before an evening Mass. The town mayor usually sponsors the event, sometimes hosting a dinner party.
While parish priests are involved in planning and preparation of the annual celebrations, the Church does not necessarily endorse loud and lavish activities.
Monsignor Andy Valera, vicar general of Malolos diocese
in Bulacan, said there are two kinds of fiesta celebrations -- secular and religious.
An example of a secular fiesta in the province is the Buntal Hat
festival in Baliuag.
The festival is designed to promote hat making from buri palm leaves. This year, the festival will be highlighted by a giant buntal hat measuring two meters in diameter, and more than a meter high.
The annual Fertility Dance
in Obando and the Kneeling Carabao (water buffalo)
festival in Pulilan, meanwhile, are religious in nature, Monsignor Valera said.
The Fertility Dance is famous among married women who want to have a child and is held May 17 to 19.
“It’s religious in the sense that fertility dances are done with prayers,” Monsignor Valera said.
He said the movements of dancers are similar to biblical dances recorded in the Old Testament.
The Kneeling Carabao Festival, on the other hand, is held on May 14 in honor of St. Isidore Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.
Monsignor Valera said trained buffalos are made to kneel in front of the church to signify farmers’ gratitude to God for good harvests.