Observing Undas in the Philippines

I grew up in the Catholic tradition of visiting the cemetery every Nov. 1. We would brave the crowd just to bring flowers and candles for our departed loved ones. The occasion itself serves as family reunion to us. I remember my mom and aunts would cook sumptuous “sinigang’ or ‘nilagang baboy’ for lunch. In the afternoon, my mother would cook ‘kakanin’ usually ‘biko’ for our snack before we head to the cemetery.

It’s just sad that we no longer practice the tradition at present. It’s because there are no tombs to visit anymore. The area where once the cemetery stood for decades is now the haven of a big commercial establishment. My uncle failed to recover what was left of the remains of my grandparents. Oddly enough, the commercial area in Alabang is reportedly haunted by ghosts. My uncle was able to secure a ceremonial place for my lolo and lola at the next town’s cemetery.

So for many years now my family observed All Saint’s Day at home. I would lit a candle beside the picture of my grandparents and say a little prayer for them. Now that I have a family of my own I still want my kids to understand that with or without a cemetery to visit we can observe the occasion and remember our departed loved ones at home. I also lit some candles outside our door. This is also a common practice of those who practice the Catholic faith. The light from the candle is believed to guide the path of the spirits to the other side.

Aside from hearing the stories about their late great grandparents my kids also love to hear ghost stories during the occasion. Maybe they got the fancy for horror and supernatural stories from me since I grew up watching horror flicks despite my being so ‘duwag’ or frightened of creepy characters.

There are a lot of fond childhood memories to share but a single entry is not enough to accommodate all of them maybe some other time. How about you, how will you spend or celebrate All Saint’s Day this year?

Originally posted on my blog – http://penname30.blogspot.com/2009/10/no-more-cemetery-to-visit.html

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