Thursday, November 02, 2006

Visiting Our Ancestors

November 1 and 2 are holidays here in the Philippines. All Saint's Day and All Souls' day. Commonly known as "Undas". The whole country is on the move to go back to their provinces, to their families, to their ancestors. It is a time for most people to have family reunions at their ancestral houses. Families together with children bring flowers and light candles at the cemetery. All over the country the landscape of these desolate places become pulsing with activity come rain or shine.

When I was a child in Alaminos in Laguna, I remember my lola and aunt will teach me how to arrange the flowers we bought a day earlier (so that the price is still lower). We arrange the flowers usually white calla lillies and gladiolas in old empty cans filled with fleshy banana trunks or gabi (taro) stems to keep them fresh the whole day in the usually scorching heat. Some relatives arrive. After lunch we take a short jeepney ride to town and walk with the masses and masses of people flooding the small eskinita to the "sementeryo". We get to see relatives that we rarely see. I am told that this is my great grand lolo and that my grand aunt. I can do our family tree just this time of the year. It is like reconnecting with our ancestors.

Upon arriving at our small lot where my lolo and sister and other relatives are buried, we offer up our prayers for their souls. Even at a young age every year I am reminded of our humanity. About life and death. One cannot comprehend the pain that goes with the passing of a loved one. But there is hope as we are continually reminded.

The memories of my youngest sister Vicky, Mama, Lola Abeng and Inay Tita Ching. Women very very close to my heart. I am happy now that they do not hurt anymore. Their lives are an inspiration and their love molded me to who I am today. I offer my prayer to their souls. God bless my dear ones!

my photo of the underwater sementeryo in Camiguin Island in 2005.

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