Spending time with the dearly departed-A A +A
Saturday, November 2, 2013
TODAY'S a special day for Catholics back home since it marks that time of year for them to remember their loved ones who have gone ahead to the Great Beyond.
People would troop to the cemeteries to celebrate and remember the dead.
All Souls’ Day actually starts on Nov. 1, now known as All Saints Day.
Through the years Nov. 2 is no longer known as the day of the dead but also of the living as people visit family and friends and those in the city would head home to the province to rest and visit the graves of their dear departed.
It is in our culture to bring flowers, candles and food and pray for nine days before starting with the novena of the dead. Kitchens are usually busy with mothers cooking food for the families and visitors.
Both All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day are official holidays to allow those in the city to mark the days with their families.
For three straights night including All Saints’ eve, cemeteries are filled with people visiting graves and I thought for once that the spirits would awaken due to the noise created by people milling about and having picnics in the gravesites.
Cops and traffic officers would be all over the place to ensure the safety of the people and manage the flow of commuters and motorists alike oftentimes at the expense of foregoing their own visits to their departed loved ones.
Foods laid beside the tombs, including the favorite drinks of the dead are visible to all.
One can expect to see Red Horse beer beside a can of biscuits on a tomb.
And don't be surprised if you hear rock music playing while a novena and Mass are ongoing.
But All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day are celebrated differently in my adopted country.
In the US, they celebrate Halloween and kids don costumes as they go “trick or treat” in every home in their community.
While Fil-American Catholics go to Mass and offer flowers, they don't do so with the same frequency as Filipinos back home.
Pinoy Sa Carolinas asked a few Fil-Americans here how they cope with the changes in commemorating the holidays.
Gina Cohold of Charlotte says she doesn't really celebrate All Souls’ Day since she is a Baptist.
“But I take my kids to trick and treat on Halloween night for fun,” she said.
Another Charlotte resident, Maria Corazon Ducusin Benrokiya said she and her papa “still go to the cemetery and put flowers and candle and offer food at mama’s grave.”
Elsa Pepito Lafette of York County says she marks the occasion by staying at home, lighting a candle, placing flowers on the altar and praying the novena.
Elsa, who owns the popular International Asian store, says they are open that day since it's not a holiday in the US.
For her part, Angelina Magcaleng of Lake Wylie, South Carolina said she was sad the first time she commemorated All Souls’ Day in the US.
“Hindi ko naramdaman (I didn't feel it),” said the 71-year-old Magcaleng, a native of Dasmarinas, Cavite.
She attended Mass at the time. It changed when her father, who lived in California, died.
Since then she and her husband Mauro would travel to California bringing flowers to her father's grave.
Just like Angelina Magcaleng, Whong Jayson of Concord said Filipinos don't fully appreciate the twin days in the US because they're not considered holidays.
Yet she and other Fil-Americans would visit the graves of their loved ones because they were raised that way.
“You also see people in the cemetery you have not seen a long time.” Whong said.
Joy Foster of Fort Mill, a native of Oroquieta City, agreed saying her experience in marking All Saints and All Souls Day in the US is nothing compared to back home in the Philippines.
“Since I've been here I haven't celebrated All Souls Day but that didn't stop me from remembering the ones who crossed to the other side,” she said.
When asked what she missed about these two holidays she answered ‘binignit/ginataan’ (sweet porridge), ‘halo-halo’ (Filipino sherbet), mixed fruits in sweet coconut milk, ‘biko’ (sweet sticky rice).
I could only fully agree with them as I remember wistfully how Pinoys spend time with their loved ones who have gone ahead of them.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 02, 2013.