Dearly departed-A A +A
Saturday, November 2, 2013
WE are probably now all done with our rituals and traditions for our dearly departed. November 1 and 2 are huge holidays for Filipinos. On these two important days of the year, we troop to the cemeteries to pay our respects to our dearly departed.
I must say, though, that I often wonder if we are still truly honoring our dearly departed with the ways and means by which we observe All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
Some of us light candles. Others bring flowers. But others still, hold huge and elaborate soirees in their mausoleums complete with buffet tables during these two holidays. I understand that this tradition may have evolved from the practice of family members coming from all over the country to converge on these two dates at cemeteries.
It’s a huge family reunion for most families. And whenever families come together in our country, food is never far behind.
So it has become a practice of many families to come together, eat, drink and be merry in a fiesta-like atmosphere in the cemeteries during these two holidays. While I personally frown at this practice, according to my father, this is nothing new as this is also how they do it in the rural areas during the wakes. People come together to eat, drink, chat and play cards as they hold vigil for the dead.
To me, these ways are strange. I believe in honoring the dead in a different manner. Personally, I would prefer for people to honor me in a more solemn fashion if I were dead. I don’t want any partying, drinking or bingeing while I lie, cold and dead, six feet below the ground. But I guess, it’s different for everyone.
I don’t know if it’s right or wrong to commemorate the dead in a fiesta-like atmosphere but come to think of it, don’t we commemorate the saints in such a manner? So I will stop short of passing judgment on those who choose to celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the same fashion as they celebrate Christmas or New Year.
In our family, we also come together as a clan to honor our dearly departed. We light candles and bring flowers and in the most recent visit, exchanged earthquake stories. We bring small snacks sometimes but we don’t hold parties or picnics. No lechon or lobsters adorn our grandparents’ tombs. It’s an occasion to come together as a family. Most importantly, it’s an occasion to allow the next generation to remember their ancestors.
Our parents brought us up to remember our grandparents with great fondness and respect. On my father’s side, my grandfather died 42 years ago, my grandmother, 54 years ago. On my mother’s side, my grandfather died 80 years ago, my grandmother, 35 years ago. Some of my grandparents, I’ve never met but my parents made sure I knew them and never forgot about them from stories told through the years.
This, to me, is the best way to honor our dearly departed. Flowers are a gesture. Candles are a tradition. But to tell their stories to our children and grandchildren, to learn from their lives, to retrace the steps they took in their lifelong journeys to their destinations—these to me, is the highest form of reverence.
We immortalize our dearly departed through the stories we never tire of telling.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 03, 2013.