Todos Los Santos
Today is the Philippines' day for the dead- Todos Los Santos or Undas. All over the country, thousands of Filipinos head for cemeteries to spend time with their loved ones who have gone on before them. Years ago, me and my family used to go to Marikina, where we have our dead at Loyola Memorial Park. We'd leave early in the morning since we needed to avoid traffic.
Trips to the cemetery then were like mini-vacations; we'd pack a big tent, lots of food for the day, tables and chairs and other necessities. To kill boredom, decks of cards, board games or books would also be packed along. We'd then spend the whole day from sun-up to sunset before finally calling it a day and packing for home.
That changed quite a bit after we moved to Marikina more than fifteen years ago. Since the cemetery was so close, there was no need to pack stuff, or even bring a tent. We'd just walk the whole way, bringing only the bare essentials- candles, flowers and our prayers. Umbrellas too, since it would either be sunny or rainy.
This year, the cemetery crowds are supposedly aren't as thick, thanks probably mainly to the weird schedule which placed All Saints' Day in the middle of the week, a one-day holiday break. With so short a time, many preferred to celebrate the day at home. Still, many flooded into the cemeteries.
The government as well as private institutions set up services like first aid stations to keep things safe, while the police and military banned gambling, alcohol, deadly weapons and even music from cemeteries to prevent any untoward incidents. Politicians of course didn't miss the opportunity to do a bit of indirect campaigning, via giveaways marked with their names or likenesses. Some things never change.
As the sun went down, so did the rain. In fact, as of this writing, it's raining cats and dogs here in Marikina- sure to be a bit of an annoyance for the people crowding in the cemeteries, or stuck clogged on the road in traffic. I'm just glad to be inside at home, dry and cozy.
Tomorrow, despite being All Souls' Day, it's back to the world of the working and the living. Life goes on.