AGUA de Mayo—a Spanish term which means “water of May”—refers to the first rainfall of May that is believed to have healing properties.

The rain drew much attention as it became a trending topic in Twitter, a social networking site. Questions about the “miracle” that comes with it have been raised here and there.

However, according to reports, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that there is no truth to the belief that Agua de Mayo brings healing.

Moreover, Pagasa said that though the rain is not dangerous, they still do not recommend taking a bath under it just to get the desired healing, because the rainwater is actually unclean, since it casts the pollutants in the atmosphere down to the land.

On the other hand, UST Department of History chair Augusto de Viana, who said that these beliefs are of Hispanic origin, believes that there is nothing wrong in believing such superstitions, so long as it does not interfere with rationality and practicality. He also said that such beliefs should not prevent us from knowing the truth undertaking these ideas.

But until now, there are still a number of people who remain firm in their belief regarding Agua de Mayo.

Here in the Philippines, several elders are convinced that the rainwater is a cure to prickly heat.

Some believe it enhances physical appearance. Superstition has it that Agua de Mayo smoothens skin and removes wrinkles and that it makes the hair soft and silky.

These beliefs are deemed as true not only by the Filipinos, but by some groups of people from the west as well.

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According to Gabrielle Hatfield, a biologist and folklorist, it was believed that getting one’s head wet by the first rain of May ensures a year free of headaches or any head ailment.

Furthermore, the data in the folklore archives of the University of California, Los Angeles show that some people from Alabama (a U.S. state) believe that the first rain of May can treat colds, while some from Kentucky (also a U.S. state) suppose Agua de Mayo prevents a person from having lice.

Nonetheless, these ideas are hardly proven and verified, as there have been no scientific researches to prove such claims.

There are also beliefs associated with Agua de Mayo that are not related to healing.

Several Catholics consider this rain as the most blessed rain of the year. And as a practice, they save rainwater and have it blessed by a priest so that it can be used as holy water, while others expect it to bring blessing and good luck.

And there are also those who believe that the first rain of May is most miraculous when it falls on exactly May 1.

While it may be true that these beliefs contribute to the richness of Philippine culture and whether scientific bases regarding these arise or not, Filipinos should still be selective on what to believe to prevent harm. Altir Christian D. Bonganay

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