Undas Essay

 Video by Noy Morcoso lll/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Every year, come November 1 and 2, cemeteries all over the country come to life when the living visit their dead in what has come to be known traditionally for Filipinos as All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day.

Though the Catholic Church appealed for a solemn and prayerful observation of the “day of the dead” and urged against turning gravesites into picnic spots, it has also meant brisk business for food and flower vendors as they catered to the thousands who pay their respects to their loved ones.

Police set up frisking booths at cemetery gates to confiscate alcoholic beverages, playing cards, portable karaoke machines and weapons as huge crowds, including children and the elderly, endured slow-moving queues.

Family affair

Teenagers have their pictures taken inside a coffin being displayed outside the Manila North Cemetery as Catholic Filipinos honor the departed in the annual observance of All Saints’ Day Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. AP

But more than tradition and business, the occasion has also become a family affair. Tents are put up for picnics, games, sing-along or simply, story-telling about a dearly departed.

“It is very important for Filipinos to pay respects to their dead. This is also a chance for a family reunion,” 21-year-old government worker Mary Joy Pasigan told Agence France-Presse at a cemetery north of the capital Manila.

Pasigan carried her five-year-old niece past cramped corridors of tombs to offer sunflowers and orchids to her dead grandparents.

Conchita Pura, 60, brought sandwiches for her two-hour vigil at the tombs of her aunt and uncle.

“We come here to light candles and offer prayers so that their sins may be forgiven,” she told AFP.

“Getting here is painful, but I must endure it to observe tradition,” she said.

Fans pay tribute to showbiz idols

It is also an opportunity for showbiz fans to be with their idols.

At the Loyola Memorial Parks in Marikina, the graves of actress Nida Blanca and rapper-actor Francis Magalona are well visited.

Among those who never fail to visit Nida Blanca is Mariane Sta. Iglesia.

Since the demise of Nida Blanca, Mariane Sta. Iglesia, a caretaker of Blanca’s property in Antipolo, said she and her family visits the actress’ tomb every year.

“I miss her. I super miss her,” said Sta. Iglesia, who worked for Blanca for 39 years.

Asked what she misses most about the actress, she said Blanca was “thoughtful and generous” and would always treat her house maid and caretakers as family.

On November 2001, Blanca was found murdered and stabbed inside a car in her residence in Greenhills, San Juan.

Sta. Iglesia, who visited the actress with her daughter and grandchildren, also met with Blanca’s former housemaids and remembered their memories of the actress.

Bring back the holy’

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said praying for the dead was a “duty” as it appealed to Catholics to “bring back the holy”.

Instead of adopting Western Halloween celebrations and dressing up as vampires and monsters, Catholics should consider posing as saints, the CBCP said in a statement.

But at the Manila North Cemetery, the mood was more festive than solemn as popular fast food chains set up carts selling roasted pig, dim sum, noodles, fried chicken, and steamed pork buns.

Thousands of Catholic Filipinos troop to Manila North Cemetery to honor the departed in the annual observance of All Saints’ Day Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. AP

The annual pilgrimage to the cemeteries also triggers a mass exodus from Manila, when tens of thousands travel to interior provinces where their relatives are buried.

Police have been placed on the highest alert since Thursday to secure cemeteries and transport terminals.

President Benigno Aquino III inspected Manila’s sea, air, and bus terminals on Friday and ordered authorities to remain vigilant, his spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, told state-run radio DZRB

“(Aquino) will spend the weekend monitoring their updates to ensure the safety of commuters who will visit the graves of their loved ones in the provinces,” Valte said.

Ordinary day

But while most Filipinos commemorate the Feast of the Dead, it is an ordinary day for Lilia Diaz and her family who, along with a number of families, have been living at the Bagbag Cemetery in Quezon City for nearly two decades.

Asked why she and her kin have chosen to live here, Diaz said it is inside the cemetery where he finds peace and quiet.

She said it was more “peaceful” inside the cemetery than outside.

According to her, he used to live in Mandaluyong but decided to build their family inside the cemetery since her husband already resides there.

She said they started to live there in 1996 and made a living by being a caretaker of the tombs.

But she admitted that her life was already inside the cemetery— the place they call home.

RELATED STORIES

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Do as the Chinese do –‘alay’ for the dear departed

Originally posted: 12:58 PM | Saturday, November 1st, 2014

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TAGS: All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Bagbag Cemetery, Catholic Church, cemeteries, Customs and Traditions, death, Francis Magalona, Lilia Diaz, Loyola Memorial Parks, Nida Blanca, Religion, Undas 2014

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MAY kanya-kanya tayong paraan sa paggunita ng Undas.

Iyong iba’y sa mismong Nobyembre 1 o Araw ng mga Patay sila nagpupunta sa puntod ng kanilang
namayapang mahal sa buhay.

Iyong iba naman ay October 31 pa lamang ay pumapasyal na sa sementeryo o kinabukasan pa ng
November 1.

Bukod sa ‘schedule’ siguro, mas ninanais ng iba na hindi sumabay sa mismong araw ng Undas
upang makaiwas sa matinding buhos ng tao.

Kami sa aming pamilya ay pinili naming mag-overnight sa gabi ng October 31, simula nang
mamayapa ang panganay naming anak, may 27 taon na ang nakararaan.

Mahigit dalawang dekada na naming ginagawa ito, lalo na nang namayapa ang aking Ama, may 12
taon naman ang nakalipas.

Wala tayong karapatan para punahin ang ilan nating kababayan kung paano ba nila ginugunita ang
Todos Los Santos.

Depende ito sa kagustuhan ng ilan at depende kung ano ang kanilang nakasanayan.

Sa panahon ngayong palasak ang ‘social media,’ asahan ang pag-selfie ng karamihan sa harap ng
puntod ng kanilang mahal sa buhay.

Hindi natin nakikitang mali ito, kahit ba labas dila pa kung magpakuha ng larawan ang ilan
nating kabataan.

Kahit sa ‘dress code’ ay wala kayong maririnig sa inyong lingkod na pumuna tungkol dito. Kung
gusto ng ilan nating kababayan na mag-kuyukot shorts habang rumarampa sa loob ng Kampo Santo ay
karapatan nila iyon.

Basta sana lang, hindi rin iyon ang maging dahilan upang sila’y bastusin ng ilang kalalakihan
na tiyak pagmumulan ng gulo.

Iyong iba naman ay nagsusuot pa ng ‘halloween costumes,’ na nakalakihan na ring gawin ng ilang
kababayan.

Maaaring tama ang suhestiyon ng ilan na sana damit ng mga Santo na lamang ang suotin ng mga
nagti-trick or treat sa halip na damit ni Kamatayan, Zombie at ilan pang nakatatakot na kasuotan.

Pero nag-ugat kasi ang paggunita sa Halloween sa ‘western countries’ kung saan ang kanilang
relihiyon ay hindi naniniwala sa mga Santo.

Ang tingin natin dito ay okay lang basta ba wala silang inaagrabyadong kapwa tao.

’Ika nga, walang basagan ng trip, mga ate at kuya.

Ang ilan naman sa ating mga kababayan ay tiyak nagsipag-uwian sa kanilang probinsiya.

Isa rin ang okasyong ito bilang pagkakataon para magkita-kita ang magkakamag-anak.

Sana lang, maging makabuluhan ang paggunita ng Undas.

Kasi sa aming pamilya, bukod sa nagpi-picnic kami sa Eternal Garden na hindi ko makitaan ng
masama, sama-sama kaming nagdarasal na ang namumuno pa sa pagbigkas ng Rosaryo ay ang mga bata sa
aming pamilya.

Dati, ang panganay kong anak na licensed engineer na ngayon at ngayo’y mga pamangkin ko na mga
nag-aaral pa lamang sa elementerya. Inaasahan ko ring manguna sa dasal ng aming pamilya ang 12-taong
gulang kong anak na bunso.

Tulad ng sinabi ko, may kanya-kanya tayong paraan. Pero wala naman sigurong masama kung
humiling tayo sa ating mga kababayan na sana maging makabuluhan ang paggunita natin ng Undas.

Maganda kasing maimulat natin sa ating mga kababayan ngayon kung bakit ba talaga ginugunita
ang Araw ng mga Patay.

Kasabay nito ang dalangin natin na sana ang kaluluwa ng mga namayapa nating mahal sa buhay ay
manatiling mapayapa sa piling ng Dakilang Maylikha.

Maging matiwasay, maayos at ligtas din sana tayong lahat ngayong araw ng Undas.

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