The healing rain of May
I realized that last night’s abrupt downpour was the first rain of May.
Not that I regularly monitor the weather, but this particular phenomenon is somehow etched into the memory of many Filipinos because it’s been a part of our culture.
A tradition, a belief, or more so, a superstition. It’s commonly called “Agua de Mayo,” a Spanish term that means “water of May.” It is believed that the first rainfall of May has healing powers.
Bathing under it can cure whatever disease one is afflicted with.
It boosts the immune system and keeps people healthy all throughout the year. Some even believe that Agua de Mayo enhances physical appearance.
It is said to smoothen the skin and remove wrinkles. It also makes the hair soft and silky.
I have fond memories of Agua de Mayo with my childhood friends.
It’s the only time of the year when parents and elders would not scold children for taking a bath under the rain because they, too, would join in. In fact, they were the ones who urged us children to go outside and take a bath.
It was a time when social media wasn’t a thing. Nothing held us from going outside. We’d play, we’d run, and we’d joke around while the heavy rain was pouring.
We’d go to a house where the alulod (drain) had no tube that directed the rain from the roof to the drainage.
It worked like a shower. You’d be lucky if there were no leaves, dirt, and other debris falling on your head. But, boy, the feeling of the water pouring down and hitting you was divine. We’d make paper boats.
We’d also go look for a leaf, a plastic cup, or any object that floated and we’d race them in the drainage and tease those whose boat sank first or came last. But we’d be fine. No one would get mad. Or when one did, we’d easily reconcile. We knew how to say sorry and forgive in an instant.
And then we’d continue playing like nothing happened. Today, it’s different though. We’d prefer staying inside our house even before this quarantine happened, glued to the smartphone or the computer.
A small difference in political views could easily shatter friendships and relationships built for many years. Not even a deadly virus can make us unite and show respect, compassion, and love toward our fellow human being. It’s all about who’s smarter, better, and more right. If Agua de Mayo is real and indeed miraculous, maybe it can cure the sick and prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
But I doubt if it can do something about the disease that ails us humans — our disregard for life, our lack of compassion, our lack of respect for others, our lack of love. Basically, the lack of humanity within us.
This may all just be nostalgia. But if there is such a period of time I could go back to and live in, I’d choose to go back to those times. It may be a time with no social media or fancy phones, and, maybe, we were a bit unscientific for believing that rain could heal.
But we were carefree and genuinely happy. I miss those times when happiness was simple and meant enjoying the cold, relaxing, and, most importantly, healing first rain of May.
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Allan L. Navida, 26, is a teacher in Cavite.
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