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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Small Reunion with the dead

We were at the cemetery yesterday to observe Todos los Santos or All Saints Day.  It is the tradition in our country to visit the final resting place of our dead relatives on this day.  Why we do it on November 1 and not on November 2 which is the All Souls Day is a mystery to me.  

Anyway, this annual tradition is one big party for many Filipino families.  It serves as a mini reunion for most families and a time to catch up with each other's activities.   It is also the time to reminisce about the dead and at the same time introduce the dead to members of the family who were too young to remember them or were not yet born then.  The living bring food and non-alcoholic drinks, which they will partake on the spot.  The whole scene takes on a fiesta atmosphere, all that's missing is a marching band.

This year was not different except that there were fewer people who came to the cemetery.  It was not as crowded as the years before.  Maybe because it was raining the whole early morning yesterday.  Luckily it stopped when the sun peered out of the dark clouds.

Another reason could be one that has changed Filipino families in a big way: immigration.  In our family for example, most of our relatives who used to come every year are now living overseas and thus could not come here anymore. 

There was a slight drizzle when we got to the cemetery yesterday.  Two of my cousins were already there and they've already lighted candles and placed flowers on the tombs of their parents.  My father, brother, sister-in-law and I  who remained also lighted some candles for our grandparents.  We all remembered that before, there were so many of us who would come there and it was a huge reunion.  This time there were only six of us.  

We spent about two hours there and had to leave because it was getting dark again and the rain could fall again.   My cousins opted to stay until the candles we lighted are spent.   

People continue to stream into the cemetery as we left.  Most of them carrying candles and flowers for their departed love ones.  Some even brought along small kids perhaps to ensure that this tradition will not be forgotten.

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