Wednesday, May 6, 2015

‘Agua de Mayo’ comes on First of May in Legazpi; good times to continue, citizens say
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 1 (PNA) -- “Agua de Mayo” was poured on this city as soon as the tick of the hour signified the entry of the first day of May.

“Let the good times begin. Agua de Mayo (Waters of May) is here on the very First of May to shield us from any dark entity,” former city councilor Jim Andes, who now heads the Senior Citizens Affairs Office, greeted the Philippines News Agency with a text message early morning Friday.

At the Legazpi Boulevard, the usual crowd doing their regular early morning workout was soaking with the moderate pouring of the rain they believe as the most blessed shower of the year and would bring good luck and better health.

Among the crowd was city councilor Vince Baltazar III who said “This is dramatic. It came on the First of May and I am letting Agua de Mayo pour on me for the blessings it brings.”

After days of summer heat, Friday’s rain — the first for the month of May - is believed to be the start of rainy season.

Agua de Mayo (the first rain of May) is also believed to be the most blessed rain of the year that it can cure some sickness and bring luck.

Although it occasionally rained here in April due to easterly wind and low pressure, some of the locals said that the first rain of May is something special and extremely significant as it frustrates malaise.

It is blessed because it is from this rain -- coming in the middle portion of summer when all the fields are dry, the streams ceased to flow and the farmers start to sow seeds for their next crop season—that the Holy Water of the Catholic Church comes from, according to 78-year-old Benjamin Bueno, a lay minister here.

“First rain in May is said to possess healing powers and prevent potential sickness, especially for little kids, and some believe it is the Virgin Mary watering the plants for them to bloom in time for Flores de Mayo festivities, and these people around and out for it want to catch a few drops of that sacred water,” he said.

Bueno said that, hopefully, this Agua de Mayo is a sign that the city would be spared from suffering the brunt of a dry spell that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said is affecting most parts of the country, including Albay province.

Dry spell is described by the weather bureau as three consecutive months of below normal (21-60-percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions or two consecutive months of way below normal (more than 60-percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions.

“Recent computer output from global climate models suggest that El Niño condition would likely to continue until mid-2015 with the chances of strengthening toward the end of the year,” according to the latest drought assessment of PAGASA.

In its weather forecast issued at 5:00 a.m. Friday, the PAGASA said “the whole country will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.”

Light-to-moderate winds blowing from the east to southeast will prevail over Northern and Central Luzon, coming from the east to northeast over the rest of the country, while the coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be slight to moderate, the PAGASA said.

“This is impressive as this Agua de Mayo is expected to sustain the cool atmospheric temperature that we have been enjoying in the city,” Roy Bustamante, a vacationing “balikbayan” from New Zealand, said.

Heat index based on PAGASA’s forecast of temperature here Friday was at the maximum of 35.6 degrees and minimum of 28.4 degrees centigrade, which was considered very moderate compared to Metro Manila’s 39.9 and 29.0 degrees centigrade, respectively.

This city is indeed different compared to other vacation areas in the country as apart from beautiful scenery and places to visit, its air is fresh and the environment is cool even during the dry season, he said.

Legazpi is very different now from what it was 15 years ago, the last time he was around for the same vacation, according to Bustamante.

Here, everyone can take a deep breath for fresh air coming from Albay Gulf at the Legazpi Boulevard or Ligñon Hill and have a sigh of relief from the air pollution in Manila, Bless Almonte, another vacationing balikbayan from the US, said.

“Clean, fresh and cool air is so enjoyable here unlike in other places of the country that is now sweltering in summer heat,” she said.

Almonte also based her remarks on what she learned from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources which had earlier classified the local air quality as clean.

Records of the EMB regional office for Bicol based at the Regional Government Center here have it that in recent years of smoke-belching monitoring and air quality measurement, the city has maintained a good status of air quality.

In determining the local air quality, EMB is using its recently-acquired Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy, an instrument that measures concentrations of atmospheric trace gases such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, among others, that are chemically reactive factors of air quality in a given area.

On the part of the city government, Mayor Noel Rosal said measures such as the provision of bicycle lanes on existing roads to encourage biking and minimize the use of motor vehicles that emit air pollutants, strict enforcement of the anti-smoke belching law and the absolute ban on cigarette smoking in public places are now in place. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/rsm