Mayflowers (flowers that bloom in May) takes inspiration from the activities done during the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May), a Filipino festival and commemoration of Marian devotion held during the month of May.
Filipino migrants have transformed this tradition to take on new meanings and functions in places outside the Philippines – from pageantry to community organizing and labor rights activism. This project is another iteration of this popular devotion that is adapted to the Filipino migrants' current conditions and emerging needs during the pandemic.
The Mayflowers project centers around the production of flowers using paper and recycled materials. Through art workshops, we make use of these flowers to produce costumes, performances, installations, and sculptural works.
This is a developing exhibition. Throughout the month of May, our online exhibition will be filled with flowers made by the workshop participants, and by May 30, we will be conducting a virtual Santacruzan on our Facebook page.
Artist and educator
Filipino Domestic Workers Association - U.K.
Cielo spends most of her time organizing for Filipino Domestic Workers Association (FDWA). For Cielo, a hobby is something that one likes doing, and when asked about hers, the first thing that comes to her mind is organizing. Organizing for FDWA is part of Cielo’s daily routine; she responds to the call of migrant workers who need assistance and rescues them from abusive employers, any time of the day.
She is one of the co-facilitators of the Mayflowers project which started because of the Beyond Myself Exhibition back in 2017. What motivated Cielo to co-facilitate the workshop was her intention to build a network of migrant workers from Taiwan and Hongkong. Personally, she finds flower-making therapeutic.
Jason Dy, SJ
Artist, priest and educator
Cris has been working in Hongkong for 25 years, where she’s also an active member of Guhit Kulay, a migrant artist collective set up in 2017.
Pre-pandemic, Cris is mostly a visual artist taking part in workshops and putting up exhibits in Hongkong. Because of the lockdown, she ventured to embroidery and sew cloth masks to cheer up her friends.
She grew up in Baguio where she owns a gown rental business on the side. She looks forward to applying what she learned in the workshops in developing her business.
Flo has been working in London since 2002. She also spends her time as a bookkeeper for Kanlungan Filipino Consortium, working for the welfare and interests of migrants, refugees, diaspora communities from the Philippines and Southeast Asia living in the UK.
She enjoys networking with migrant workers around the world and looks forward to every Kamustahan session because, for her, it’s an opportunity to listen to other workers in the diaspora and share their voices. Because of the pandemic, Flo saw posting on Facebook as a window for integration and starting discussions with each other.
For Flo, writing is a powerful and useful instrument—very important for migrants to document their situation, especially for victims of trafficking who need to write about their experiences in answering forms from the immigration office.
Rachell enjoys meeting fellow migrant workers through Kamustahan and feels grateful to be part of the project. She makes yellow paper flowers for her children because the color symbolizes hope.
For Irine, joining the Santa Cruzan for Kamustahan is a different experience because she never experienced the tradition back in her hometown in Cavite.
She looks forward to every workshop session because each “Kamustahan” is literally a checking-up session with fellow participants and a safe space to talk about their shared experiences as migrant workers. She feels proud participating in the project and seeing the work of other participants.
Making flowers for Mayflowers breaks the monotony of her days, usually spent taking care of Taiwanese elders. For Irine, the craft hones her creativity and refreshes her mind. Someday, she hopes to be an art teacher.
Nizza admits that she’s an introvert, and was initially reluctant to speak out and talk about her outputs. Eventually, the sessions encouraged her to be more confident about herself, allowing her to share more with her fellow migrant workers.
She says she’s happy that because of Kamustahan, she meets people from Hongkong and London. Meanwhile, back in her hometown in Cotabato, her children witness her make flowers out of papers during their video calls. For Nizza, flower making with her children strengthened their bond. In the future, she hopes to learn how to paint.