Kalag-kalag: A wonderful time for candle and flower vendors

GOOD for business. 
In this photo,  Jose Raganas Jr. is seen manning his stall outside Carreta Public Cemetery in Cebu City on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. For Raganas, Kalag-kalag is a good season for selling candles and flowers as he earns more than what he earns in a typical day. In Cebuano-speaking areas in the Philippines, the observance of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2) is called “Kalag-kalag.”  / KAISER JAN FUENTES
GOOD for business. In this photo, Jose Raganas Jr. is seen manning his stall outside Carreta Public Cemetery in Cebu City on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. For Raganas, Kalag-kalag is a good season for selling candles and flowers as he earns more than what he earns in a typical day. In Cebuano-speaking areas in the Philippines, the observance of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2) is called “Kalag-kalag.” / KAISER JAN FUENTES

KALAG-KALAG is the most wonderful time of the year for small-time vendors like Jose Raganas Jr. — it is the season they experience a surge in their sales.

“Visitors only remember their departed loved ones on their birthdays, aside from kalag-kalag,” said Raganas, who has a makeshift stall outside the public cemetery in Barangay Carreta, Cebu City.

Kalag-kalag is the Cebuano term for the observance of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2).

A vendor for 20 years, Raganas said on Thursday that he had earned P8,000 for a whole day of selling candles and flowers during All Saints’ Day, which was observed last Wednesday.

This one-day earning surpasses Raganas’ regular sales, which typically yield around P1,000.

At his stall, Raganas was accompanied by his three nieces who assist him in persuading customers to buy from them. They sold candles at prices ranging between P5 and P15 each, varying depending on thickness, while a small bundle of flowers placed in a recycled water bottle was sold for P30 each.

Raganas said his mother, who owns a stall inside the Carreta Public Cemetery, was the first to make a living by selling candles and flowers. Aside from him, his other sibling has also followed in their mother’s footsteps.

Business tradition

Raganas wishes to pass on the family’s small business tradition to his three nieces as the third generation of candle and flower vendors in the family.

One of Raganas’ nieces, Ashley Yvonne Sancio, who is 16 and hails from Barangay Paknaan in Mandaue City, said she joins her uncle in selling to earn an additional allowance for school. She said she does not sell candles and flowers regularly but only during Kalag-kalag.

Despite her uncle’s encouragement, Sancio mentioned that she does not see a future in selling candles and flowers.

Sancio aspires to become a nurse.

Commissioned cleaner

Rocky Maribao, 26, a resident of Barangay Lahug in Cebu City, does a commissioned work in cleaning niches and tombstones at the Carreta Catholic Cemetery, which is adjacent to the public cemetery.

Maribao was hired by the Sto. Rosario Parish management to work for a week, cleaning graves in the Catholic cemetery, earning P500 per day.

Besides his pay, he received tips, at most P10, from cemetery visitors who had requested for his service. He saves the money he earns to process his requirements while applying to become a member of the maintenance personnel of a private Mandaue City firm.

“Earlier this year, I graduated from ALS (Alternative Learning System), and now I want to work. However, I do not have enough money to process my employment, which is why I am serving the dead,” he said in Cebuano.

Melted candle scraper

Mark John Lugod, 13, from the nearby Barangay Lorega San Miguel, scrapes melted candles from tombs at Carreta Public Cemetery and sells them to candle makers for P25 per kilo.

On All Saints’ Day, Lugod earned P75 for three kilos of candles he collected in a day.

“I will use the money I earned to buy food for dinner and to help my mother,” he said in Cebuano.

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