Saints and Souls

For the other side of the word, it’s halloween time. For another part, it would just be another boring/busy/uneventful/exciting day. But for the Philippines and the Filipinos, it’s All Saint’s/Soul’s Day.

Why the slash? Like many things in the Philippines, both events are confused or mixed by the common Filipino. Anyway, as most of us here in the Philippines are Catholic Christians, we celebrate these days the traditional way.

Catholic teaching guides that November 1 be held as the day for all the Saints, the day after, November 2 will be for all the Souls. Filipino’s on the other hand celebrate both on November first. I don’t know exactly how it all started, but theories have it that people think cemeteries go too crowded on the 2nd so they go there on the 1st, a practice which later became a tradition. Who really knows?

Public cemeteries look like picnic grounds (on the extreme side – amusement parks). Interestingly, the people gone before us become bonds that keep together the living. These days become days of reunion, reflection, and (extended) family bonding. It’s a time when one’s great grandfather is visted by his dozen sons and daughters, their own sons and daughters, and their own sons and daughters (so on and so forth until the you can’t see the tombstone amidst the heads that gather round). That’s how we remember our dead, we celebrate together as a family. I forgot to mention that great granpa’s brothers and sisters and cousins and their families might be coming too!

We deeply believe in the afterlife and the promises held by it. We believe that we continue to exist after we have left the material world and that our continuing communion through prayer strengthen and help us in this short sojourn. As Christ has died and risen, we believe we will also die and rise. But while we are living, we live and exist with the help of the prayers of our dead loved ones as we too pray for them. That is how God’s family relate to one another.

Today, we remember, the good and the bad. We remember loved ones, lost and found. We remember the times, happy and sad. As a people, Filipinos find strength in the memory of a loved one, build strength among the living, and foster strength for the generations to come.


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