FORTY YEARS after The Manila Hotel celebrated the traditional Filipino festival Flores de Mayo for the first time by combining fashion, artistry and culture, the hotel is reviving this tradition by partnering with the Designers Circle Philippines and the Office of the Mayor of Manila. Called Pagsulyap sa mga Reyna: Flores de Mayo at The Manila Hotel, it will be held in the Maynila Ballroom on May 1, 4 p.m.

Flores de Mayo is a celebration devoted to the Virgin Mary and lasts for one month. It culminates with the Santacruzan, a procession which honors the finding of the True Cross by Helena of Constantinople (known as Reyna Elena) and Constantine the Great. Chosen ladies, called sagalas, take a variety of Biblical roles in the procession including Queen Judith, Ester, Naomi, St. Veronica, the three Marys (Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Mary Salome), Queens Faith, Hope, and Charity, among several others.

The first Flores de Mayo at the Manila Hotel was held in 1979, under the initiative of couturier Ben Farrales and organized under the Congregacíon del Santissimo Nombre del Niño Jesus. Through the years, countless beauty queens and celebrities participated in the traditional procession as sagalas, wearing gowns by designers like Joe Salazar, Renee Salud, Cesar Gaupo, and Malu Veloso.

This year, 30 salagas will take part in the traditional procession, all wearing Filipiniana couture by the members of the Designers Circle Philippines, whose members include Johnny Abad, Renee Salud, Roland Lirio, Alfie Ong, Fanny Serrano, and Malu Veloso.

The traditional procession will start at the Maynila Ballroom at 4 p.m. It will circle the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park, and return to the hotel where garlands of flowers will be offered to the Blessed Virgin. The sagalas will then proceed to a private dinner.

Guests who wish to view Flores de Mayo or participate in the procession are invited to avail of the hotel’s Flores de Mayo Package which includes a stay at a Tower De Luxe Room (P5,999 net a night) with buffet breakfast and Filipino Afternoon Tea at the Lobby. The Flores de Mayo Package is available from April 30 to May 2.