Betis folk prepare for longest remembrance of the dead

GUAGUA -- It is a bustling scene inside the Betis Catholic Cemetery, as people go about cleaning the tombs of their department relatives and loved ones in preparation for the All Souls' Day.

Most people, outside of Betis, remember their dead, but not on All Souls' Day, which is November 2, but on November 1, which is All Saints' Day.

In Betis, the memorial for the dead is not only celebrated on a single day but for nine consecutive days.

People from Betis District have started cleaning family graves and mausoleums as early as October in preparation for this district's longest observance of All Souls' Day.

Betis District, once a proud town of seven barangays and now merely a part of Guagua, is known for observing the longest honor rites for the dead, highlighted by nine days of church masses at the Santiago Apostol Church in Guagua.

While others would have set aside leftover candles after the November 1 occasion, folks of the district would continue honoring the dead, showering them with prayers in the company of family members.

They would do this for a span of nine days, starting from November 1 until November 9.

The local public cemetery is a virtual whitewash as most graves are painted in immaculate white. Mausoleums are given a fresh sweep, some even with the luxury of curtains and air-conditioning units.

Precy Cunanan, a longtime resident of Betis, said they have been observing the tradition for as long as she could remember. She said the tradition could even be considered the longest observance of All Souls' Day.

The tradition includes the offering of a nine-day novena at St. James the Apostle Church, which a majority of the residents strictly observe.

But unlike the usual November 1 celebration, the highlight of the tradition climaxes in the last day of the novena, which is highlighted by a morning mass and the blessing of graves in the nearby cemetery.


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