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Flores de Mayo

I had an awesome childhood. It was fun, memorable, and formative. There were experiences that I’d like to keep to myself which I’ll bring with me to my grave and then there were some that I’d always talk about with my friends.

Here’s one of those things that I’d always wanted to share. An experience that has always haunted me.

Do you know how kids from provinces religiously attend Flores de Mayo? Because in our street it was a social affair. My friends and I were always excited to go to our Parish Church every afternoon and mingle with kids our age. It was an event that was attended by everyone in our area. Especially by Catholic kids.

Flores de Mayo is observed during the month of May – when kids are on vacation and are stuck at home doing kid’s stuff and playing outside until they get tired. It is a 2 – 3 hours event which starts at 3pm or 4 pm in the afternoon. Every weekday kids from our area flock to our Parish church to attend Flores de Mayo.

Here are the things that happen during the program:

Before the actual program selected kids will lead the rosary – most of these kids have mastered the ways of the rosary. While they lead the rest of the children, the ates and kuyas will be preparing their lessons for the afternoon session. I don’t know which comes first but there will be 2 parts of the event: the lessons and the Flores de Mayo - the main event.

Every afternoon different lessons will be discussed by the ates and kuyas. They will also be observing the kids in their circles. Noting how well-behaved or ill-mannered their students were. Because at the end of the session the ates and kuyas will give stars to all kids who attended. This will be star-shaped paper. One point from a star will be cut off if the kid has been difficult, late, or was not being helpful. Other kids will have more points removed depending on the ates and kuyas. These stars would be given to the kids and will be pasted on the attendance sheet posted on the church’s announcement board. Every Sunday mass I’ll be comparing my complete stars to those kids who only had 2 or 3 star points.

After the lesson bit is the Flores de Mayo segment. There will be letters forming the word AVE MARIA on wooden handles with 2 ribbons on it. One kid will be given one letter and 2 kids will be the angels for that letter. They will hold the ribbon and will be on each side of the letter bearer.

Each letter will correspond to something about Mama Mary. A kid will be speaking each of Mama Mary’s character. After that, the letter-bearer will walk down the aisle with the 2 angels beside. The letters will be placed on a wooden thing used to hold the letters up straight. (This is like a test tube rack only bigger.)

After all the letters have spelled AVE MARIA. A kid who will act as Mama Mary will also walk down the aisle alongside her many angels. She will be carrying this baby to who supposedly is Jesus Christ and then stand at the center of the AVE MARIA. The angels would be carrying baskets with santan flowers. They would throw it on the mama mary kid and shower her with a rain of flowers.

The other kids who were not able to participate in the scene (well, they're the audience) would then sing Italian songs honoring and paying reverence to Mama Mary. (Until know I still can sing parts of the songs.)

After the main event is snacks and refreshments time.

Even before the last song is finished, excited kids would then be running toward the building at the back adjacent to the church where the snacks would be waiting for them. A typical snack would be a juice in a plastic or ice candy and baked goodies such as pan de coco and ensaymada. Some kids will have take-twos or take-threes.

After the month long event, a culminating program will be held on the last Saturday of the month. ( I can also be wrong on this one.) It will have the same activities but it’ll be more fun. There will be give-aways such as rosaries, notebooks, and many more to kids who have complete attendance. Everyone will receive prizes.

Before the culminating activity, a poster-making contest was conducted. The theme, though I have forgotten went like this: “The Role of the blessed Virgin Mary” or something to that extent.

Being the competitive kid that I was I joined the contest (I was a competitive kid back then. I don't know what happened now.). I haven’t thought of a picture to draw that captures the theme. Heck, I did not even know what to draw. So starting one was very difficult. The deadline of submission was drawing nearer and I haven’t drawn anything on my white cartolina. 

A day before the deadline me and my childhood friends went and snooped on the submitted entries. It was hidden inside a cabinet or something. I frantically went through most of the posters and tried to capture essence of each drawn poster. Many light bulbs were turned on that afternoon. I went home with many ideas in my head. When I got home I started sketching. The sketches then turned into drawings and then I found myself a finished poster. It was pretty much something. I was proud of myself for being able to come up with an idea that was both original and creative. The next day I submitted my well-thought of poster (yeah, it was also decent looking).

On the judging day, the posters were laid down on the floor (I am pretty much not sure one this. But bear with me on this.). One by one the judges examined the drawings, trying to get a sense of the message conveyed by each entry. I notice that among all of the entries mine and another entry stood out. Upon careful observation I realized why both of the entries stood out – they were the same.

I had no idea why it happened. I had never thought that someone would copy my idea. Or was it the other way around? If my memory serves me right the drawing I did was Mama Mary at the center of the poster carrying baby Jesus. Her face was not prominent as it was only her nose that was drawn. I looked at the copy-cat poster and noticed every single detail – everything about the drawing was exactly the same as mine. 

Well, expect for the color. But more or less the same.

The other kids who submitted their entries were already noticing the resemblance. I don’t know how to react. The only thing that was running through my mind was that I wanted the judging to end to know who won.

There were 3 runner-ups and one winner.

The winner was the poster I copied. Or plagiarized. (I don’t even know that term before.)

I did not win but I did receive a consolation prize. Consoling me for the act of copying and stealing of someone else’s idea.

Now that I am old and wise beyond my years (This one I am pretty unsure of) I know better than copying or plagiarizing someone’s content. I learned from my childhood experience that doing so will not do me good. Creating original contents now is my thing. 

I take proud of the work I do and the ideas that I am able to bring to life. I can say that most of it are my own ideas. But some were inspired by other fellow content creators.

There are times when I’d be inspired by someone’s work. But I always make it a point to note them on the article I wrote.

So if you happen to stumble upon something similar to this one, let me know. I’m always forgetful.

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