Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Merry Month of May

Lovely month of May
Lasses’ hearts aflutter,
Lads gather in the plaza
Watching the flitting moves
Of young maidens flirting
The swains eagerly show off
Glistening sun tanned bodies
While the girls coyly turn away
With reddened cheeks
And tinny giggles

It was the night of the “lutrina”
The girls dress up as
“Sagalas” in the barrio “santacruzan”
Hosted by Ate Delay, the “hermana”
The lads in freshly ironed shirts
And thickly pomaded hair
Huddle together underneath
The “palapala” playfully
Teasing each other at
The sight of the girls with
Rouged faces and false lashes

The procession went five blocks
Past the banca crossing station
Into the main road where
Houses opened their windows
With kids waving from the sills and
The elderly “manangs” thumbing rosary beads
Others watch from their thresholds of the yard
The village gossips having a grand time
Spreading rumors about the Reyna Elena
And the handsome escort, a guest from the city
While an irreverent scream of religious songs
Blare from a hitched megaphone behind a cart
Loaded with an electric generator for
Lighting up the Reyna and “sagalas” up front

A block away from the “hermana's” house
Little boys ran to announce procession's return
Neighborly womenfolk help make ready the
“Talyase” of thick “atole” and the “bilao” of “luglog”
Helpers with beads of perspiration paddle vigorously
The rice porridge, stirred and steaming
Now ready for the arrival of the marchers
After the recital of Hail Mary's, Our Father's
And Glory Be's three times over
The queue at the table builds up, chattering children
With bowls in hand waiting for their turn
At the “sandok” to scoop the steaming treat.
Some of the more daring boys edge over
Towards the young lasses and with awkward
Opening lines utter stammered introductions
With sweaty brows and sticky palms offered
Hands in acknowledgement of each other

The merry month of May in our barrio
Ushers in these jubilations year after year
Religious piety and pagan practice, flaunted
By the elderly folks mixing with the gaiety
Of young swains and maidens daring to shed
Timidity and defy parental admonitions
Answering the call of adolescent proclivities
Happening at the longish day of the summer solstice
Instinctive and mindless in the sweltering heat
It has gone on for as long as I can recall
A life's celebration the barrio folks never tire of doing
I'll be back next year in the merry month of May

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