Reunion of the living-A A +A
By Ver Pacete
As I See It
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
FIESTA Minatay (All Souls' Day) is a religious fiesta designated by the Catholic Church for November 2. The Church is requesting the faithful to remember their departed. Filipinos observe the revelry before the celebration. Most Negrosanons troop to the cemeteries to honor the dead on November 1, but the weekend before that they were already cleaning the graves and putting a new coat of paint on the tombs.
We call the observance of the celebration as Pangalagkalag. In remembering the dead, we always go back to our hometown to reunite with our family. Those who are working or living away from home always find means to return to the ancestral house where the patriarch or the matriarch of the clan lives. This hallowing is always a homecoming. Stories in the gathering are always centered on the departed members. Their characteristics are remembered and family members offer special prayers in front of the altar.
Since this is a homecoming, a group of relatives usually prepare the Fiesta Minatay food-suman, arroz a la Valenciana, palutaw, native chicken, tinola, or pig lechon. The elders give opportunity to their children to know each other. It is one chance to know the status of each member and to acknowledge their husbands or wives. We open ourselves on what we feel in the presence of the beliked. We also exchange tokens and share our cards for future purposes.
The grandparents have their rituals inherited from the ancestors. A special table is loaded with food and drinks. The spirits of the departed are expected to assemble and have the picnic of the unseen. Of course, we do not embrace this family version of The Others. We do not expect a scary incident just like the floating of the bottle of beer or the appearance of a relative from the dream world.
One or two family members or the household staff will stay at home and the rest of the members will go to the cemetery. Traffic is phenomenal and it would be very hard to push oneself vertically until he reaches the resting place which is usually a 3 to 4 storey 4x4 apartment painted with solid white paint and identified by individual 1x1 marble tag. You could be amused by your neighbors who fenced their territory with candles of different colors and sizes. Prayers are read, chanted or sung. If you are lucky, the priest could possibly pass by your area to sprinkle holy water.
Relatives and friends are meeting relatives and friends in the cemetery. Talks could be on personal matters to business, sports to profession, and even on celebrities. Considering that 2013 is an election year, you will find politicians roaming around like spooky ghosts. They hunt for votes. They can be sentimental without being mawkish. From the cemetery, the family could opt to go back home, visit some friends or end up in a cool restaurant for a glass of lemonade and a slice of buko pie or pieces of mango tart.
Fiesta Minatay is all about that-bonding, food, sharing and prayers. Let us not underestimate its socio-religious-cultural value by associating the event with horror stories and fairies. This is not about your vision of witchcraft or schizophrenia. Do not adulterate our beautiful culture with your imagination of things outside time and space.
The dead are special. The dead in Christ shall rise first. When time comes, we shall be one with them with the Lord.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 31, 2012.