Pacete: Death: Life after life

THE production staff members of a major television company from Metro Manila were here last week. They would want to have their “Halloween Special” featuring Silay as the “City of Ghosts.” That was funny because the concept does not jive with what we promote in Silay being the “seat of arts and culture in Western Visayas.”

Nobody agreed to the plan, even the Provincial Tourism Office. The shooting did not materialize. That “bright idea” came out because Silay is noted for its heritage houses and we promote “cemetery tour” not because of the ghosts. The best tombs and mausoleums (in architectural style from the turn of the century up to now) could be found at the parish and public cemeteries of Silay.

That television company requested me to tell stories about my personal and vicarious experiences with ghosts and the elementals. That could be easily done. We do storytelling anchored on folklore in out guided tours.

If we allow the “actor-psychic” to do his acting, he will always find ghosts in every spooky corner of the heritage houses… and he will see elementals chasing each other by the window panes. The “unseen” could be everywhere even in our homes.

For ghost hunting in the cemetery, the “actor-psychic” will be accompanied by sexy female hosts. We expect that they will hear haunting voices from the catacombs and meet a headless ghost searching for his head. That would be fun and funny for a television show but they will kill our tourism industry in Silay. If we allow that, Hollywood ghost busters will be coming to Silay to chase ghosts residing in every ancestral house. That’s a bad idea… a bad publicity. We are not into full swing paranormal tourism yet.

I am taking this up because life and death are serious topics. We value life because it is a gift from God and time will come that we have to return life to God after living life to the fullest. Life is nurtured with life and it is lived to the fullest if we live well with others.

Life is a journey and it ends with a physical death.

Christians believe that death is not the end. There is life after life. In death, our individual spirits lose their limitation and evolve into a state of complete fusion beyond our earthly imagination. The two most common beliefs include a happy afterlife in the sky and an unhappy afterlife under the earth. That could be our vision of heaven and hell.

“It is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment”. (Hebrews 9:27)

On November 2, we will be celebrating “Fiesta Minatay.” I was once a part of a much ritualized family. My grandfather (father’s side) was a “cabeza de barangay.” My mother was a daughter of an Aglipayan priest. Before lunch, our grandfather (the family patriarch) would gather all of us to hear the story of our ancestors. The narration was colorful and it would focus on life and death.

The best chunks would always consider our ancestors who fought bandits, ancestors who ruled the village, ancestors who disobeyed the friars, ancestors who eloped with beautiful ladies, and ancestors who inherited the special powers of the “herbolarios.” As a young boy, those stories would lull me to sleep.

Our family members believe that the spirits would always go back during “Fiesta Minatay” to join the living in a “banquet.” We always have “Fiesta Minatay” food in a “duso-duso” ritual (food offering for the spirits: suman ibos, but-ong, palutaw, kalamay-hati, arroz a la Valenciana, chicken adobo, and pork sarciado). There is always tuba, bottles of beer, and a gallon of albutra (white wine) from the Chinese store.

All the old pictures of our ancestors are displayed also on top of the “duso-duso” table. Part of the ritual is the naming of the names. My mother has the complete list of the departed members of our clan. My lolo would always invite lady relative chanters to join him in the chanting of a liturgy during the “oracion” (prayer) for the souls in purgatory. This would take more than an hour.

I am not a ritualistic Catholic. I would just like to be there but I do not want to initiate. I honor the spirits of my ancestors by thanking the God that I know for making them a part of our growing up. I do not want to be in a psychomanteum and be in a hypnagogic state just to talk to my ancestors. I can always be inspired by simply remembering them.


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