My first Flores de Mayo in Poblacion, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
After the town fiesta, Jenard, Head of the Alter Servers of the Parish, approached me regarding the possibility of using my Marian image for the town's Flores de Mayo. Initially I hesitated a bit since I was still exhausted from the Holy Week and the Fiesta processions and secondly, I still have not recovered financially (since my family is this year's Holy Week sponsor). Also, I was informed that another image is already being used for the Parish's Flores de Mayo and I don't want to suddenly come in the picture and take over for no reason at all. After a couple of txts between me and Jenard, I was eventually convinced and I confirmed my participation.
With Veil or No Veil
I have two Marian images: the Santo Rosario, my very first santo which I was able to buy using salary from my first job and of course a little help from my mom; and another Marian Image, which I lovingly call my "All Other" Marian image (sort of the callejera of my Santo Rosario) since I use it for all other occasions eg as the Santo Rosario since it can still fit into the old vestments and accessories of my first Santo Rosario which is now about the same size as the Original La Naval from being about a meter tall; as Mama Mary in our Belen; as Mary, the Theotokos, Mother of God; as Our Lady of Fatima; as the Immaculate Conception etc etc. My plan was, for the Flores de Mayo in Poblacion, I will use my "All Other" Marian image since my primary concern was the rains and I don't want my Santo Rosario to get wet (I could just imagine the cleaning and the drying that I will have to do if it happens) and secondly since it was just recently painted by Nick Lugue (encarna). Thirdly, when I was able to afford to complete the Santo Rosario look on my first image, I told myself that it will never be used as another Marian image (of another title), it will remain as the Santo Rosario (this is actually my main reason why I decided to have another Marian image made). Lastly, I rarely part with my Santo Rosario because among my images, it has sentimental value being the very first image I was able to commission.
So it was decided that my image will be used in the Flores de Mayo procession in Poblacion. My next question was, given about 2 weeks to prepare how will I transform my "All Other" Virgen to Virgen de las Flores. I googled to check how the Virgen de las Flores is dressed in other towns and parishes, to get some ideas and I realized that there is no standard look for the Virgen de las Flores. Since May for Filipinos is a time when sagala's and reina's come out, I decided that my Virgen de las Flores will be like a Queen as well. So I started rummaging through my Santo Rosario's old vestments/accessories and eventually I decided to use the Santo Rosario ensemble I did, if I am not mistaken, in October of 2009, which was inspired from the Silver and Gold dress designed by Aureo Alonzo for Our Lady of La Naval, (besides it is more practical to use it in case it rains). I immediately tried it on my image, used my Dodong Azares La Naval Canonical Crown replica for the metal accessories, and grabbed a bunch of artificial flowers sitting idly in a flower vase nearby. After staring at it for quite some time, I still feel the whole look lack something so I decided to get some help from some of my FB friends...
Or without...although it's not much help since I got a 50-50 tally
Fast forward to May 10th, feast of Our Lady of the Abandoned of Marikina, I decided to go without veil.
May 13th is the Feast of day of Our Lady of Fatima. My Mom asked me if she can borrow my "All Other" Marian image for an event in their office commemorating the feast of Our Lady and I, of course, said yes. So I removed the Santo Rosario dress and transformed my "All Other" image as Our Lady of Fatima, dressed simply in white. Afterwards I brought out from storage my images of Jacinta, Lucia and Francisco to complete the tableau.
A week passed, and the Fatima tableau is not yet home. I thought the Parish Priest who officiates mass in their office may have borrowed it to be enthroned in their Parish Church, it happened before, so I thought it is okay and I still have 2 more days before Friday. Friday came and the image is not yet back home. Worse, I was no longer able to talk to my mom since she went on a road trip together with my relatives to Pangasinan and Ilocos. And that was it, how my Santo Rosario became the Virgen de las Flores of Poblacion. And for me it was serendipitous because even though it rained on May 24th, the experience and the treatment granted by the Parishioners of Poblacion (and after in Muzon) to my image is truly overwhelming (me as the image owner). I even thought somehow this was orchestrated by Our Lady herself. Anyway, I'm glad things happened they way they were.
Look test #2 for Virgen de las Flores. Although I told myself before that she will no longer be transformed to any other Marian Image, I decided to go with it to for the sake of honoring the promise I made. I thought of the Candelaria of Marilao which during Easter becomes the Virgen Alegria. Somehow it made me feel better...And it was a decision I am very happy to have made.
May 24th, The day of the Flores
Since my "All Other" Marian Image is still wearing the Dodong Azares crown, I was left with two options, to use the silver-plated "Corona Imperial" of our Dolorosa or to use my new La Naval Crown Set (a replica of the La Naval's "Pambahay" Crown set). A good friend advised that since my Virgen will be acclaimed as the Festejada for Poblacion's Flores de Mayo I should also up the ante, so I decided to use my new La Naval set. Afterwards, he offered to lend a pair of cubic zirconia earrings valued at about Php 20,000 and I borrowed a diamond bracelet from my best friend (a gift from her mom) which I used as a choker to complete the look. The result...astounding. I have never seen my Santo Rosario as radiant as this before. I am wondering if it is because of the new encarna or because of the jewels adorning her face but she was truly a sight to behold. See for yourself:
I have never seen my Santo Rosario as radiant as this before.
As Virgen de las Flores
The result...astounding. I never tire of staring at her pictures...
And Accuweather was Right!
Since I discovered Accuweather using my mobile, I made it a habit to check the weather on the procession date a few days prior for me to better plan ahead. And in most cases, it has proven to be accurate and helpful. May 24th was a good example, it predicted that there is high probability it will rain, so I have sheets of plastic ready, and the rain came pouring down...it was a tense moment suddenly we were running about trying to cover the virinas with plastic and of course the Virgen but our best effort was not enough, everything was wet wet wet (initially I thought it won't rain because the sun was high up all afternoon so we were okay not to cover the virinas and the image with plastic even if Accuweather predicts so)...one thing I learned in Pagsasanto is to just accept things you can't control. In Japanese, this is called "Shoganai" or in tagalog "Wala ka namang magagawa, so hayaan mo na lang."
Covered too late, everything was wet, wet, wet, = (
And so with a deep sigh, I just let all the stress go and prayed that everything will be ok. There's nothing I could do to stop the rains, even if I wanted everything to be perfect, the image was perfect, the carroza was perfect but the rain just drenched it. The marching band came and still the rain showed no signs of stopping. We were almost an hour behind schedule. I was already a bit worried if the procession would still happen. I was told that this is not the first time the rains stopped the Flores de Mayo procession from even making it out of the Parish grounds. And then the marching band started playing...I suddenly forgot what I was worrying about...
From garage to music hall