Tapulanga | National Museum WV (@nationalmuseum.wv), Merlyn F. Geromiano | NMWV

FLORES DE MAYO. Let’s fill our flower baskets with gumamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinenses). Called tapulanga in Panay, this flower is a favorite floral offering every Flores de Mayo.

Gumamela is a stunning display in most Filipino gardens. It is uncertain where the gumamela originated. However, it was believed that it came from East Africa as it is related to Hibiscus schizopetalus. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant in the tropics and subtropics.

Gumamela is an evergreen shrub. It is a plantito or plantita favorite because of its attractive flowers that come in red, white, or yellow. It is a landscape ornamental/fence plant that you can see in public parks or side streets and other urban spaces.

Every May, kids get excited to gather gumamela for their afternoon “flores.” Gathering flowers is exciting. They can pick and gather any flower available in their or their neighbors’ gardens.

What keeps the children glued to this daily afternoon activity? “Flores” is like a summer class, only that it’s a catechism class where the Catholic children develop their love and devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

From an appointed catechist, usually the older women in the community, they learn songs like “Balay ko sa Langit” and “Chikading”.

The pandemic has changed the way Flores de Mayo is observed in the last two summers. The kids are surely missing the morning flower gathering and the afternoon catechism and merienda. But they are keeping the faith looking forward to the end of this pandemic.

What’s your Flores de Mayo story? Comment below.

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