DO YOU have any rituals, beliefs,and practices that you and your family hold during a death of a loved one? And do you believe in life after death?

Just in time for the celebration of the All Souls and All Saints, Casa Gorordo Museum (CGM) held the CGM Talk entitled "Panaw: Pre-colonial Visayan Beliefs on Death and the Afterlife" Friday, October 26 at the CGM.

The featured speaker was master story-teller Prof. Jose Eleazar Bersales, a progessor of anthropology, and author and a cultural worker.

Bersales, who based his talks on years of archaeogical field work and historical research, dived into the native religion of the Visayans before discussing the beliefs on death and the afterlife.

Bersales said that the Visayans used to worship "diwatas" and idols in different forms such as stones, images, woods, or gold. These idols represented gods and male and female ancestors.

Unlike today wherein Visayans go to churches and temples to worship and pray, in the pre- colonial period, they used to have small "outhouses" made of bamboo to serve as a place where sacrifices known as "ibid" were offered.

Bersales also discussed some of the rituals of the Visayans in the pre-colonial period. He said the one common ritual of the Visayans was the offering of meat when someone got sick.

Another one is the Pagtigman, the most prominent ritual, where villagers gather in one place and butcher many wild pigs offering it to the gods in exchange for a good and bountiful harvest.

Later, Bersales discussed about the different mortuary beliefs of the Visayans.

"Loarca" is a belief in Cebu, Bohol, and Bantayan that when someone dies, they will go directly to the "infernal regions." In the presentation of Bersales, he shared that those who die by drowning in the sea are believed to remain underwater forever. In memory of these people, relatives place a bamboo or reed and dress them up as a man or woman to represent the person who died and they erect it near the spot, where the person drowned.

During the pre-colonial period, "professional mourners" were already present. They were hired by wealthy families and they were paid to compose rhymes and dirges specific to the dead person.

When a village chief died, the whole village will come into silence and they place "haop", which requires everyone to refrain from shouting or making loud noises.

It was also a practice before that the dead body will be wrapped in cloth. The color of the cloth depends of the social status of the dead person.

"Lungon" of the poor was made of bamboo and woven vines.

Bersales shared in his presentation that after burial during the pre-colonial period, there will be a feast. The feast depends on the social status of the deceased.

But where did we adopt all of these practices?

"Burial practices or all human practices is permitted by necessity, utilitarian functional necessity," said Bersales.

"It doesn't mean that the Egyptians came here or the Greeks came here and taught us to do these. They are forced by the circumstance of our geography and geology to create a culture we have," Bersales added.

The event was attended by students from the different universities in Cebu, media, and invited guests.