Love Letters

I originally didn’t want to post the following photos because I thought that they might not be interesting to some. I changed my mind, however, when I got to inspect them one by one tonight. See. although the objects in these photos may appear useless and trivial, I believe that they represent a very important part of our rich and colorful culture as Visayans and Cebuanos. And I fear that if I don’t post them, some people (Cebuanos, particularly) might not even know that they exist at all.

You’re probably asking ‘What is he talking about?’ Well, I’m talking about these truly moving love letters etched in concrete and stone in some of the very old churches in our country. If you’ve ever visited the age-old church of Carcar, for example, you might have probably seen the numerous tombstones all over its walls. They’re very easy to notice not only because they stick out like annoying scratches on a painting, but also because they bear messages that can literally move you to tears. These tombstones contain epitaphs which use old Spanish and Cebuano words. And for me, these messages are not only ageless symbols of love and devotion for those loved ones who can no longer be with us but also true testaments of the beauty and elegance of the Cebuano culture.

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A tombstone from 1911 containing a truly moving epitaph.

 

Arnold and Mark inspecting one of the many tombstones in the church.

This one obviously uses the template used in modern-day tombstones. It contains the letters PSK (Pahulay Sa Kanunay/Rest In Peace), the name of the deceased (Angela Alesna), the date of death (August 9,1917), and the age (82) Also included is a short message written by members of the family. “Si Manding namong namingauan. Ig-ampo intaon niño and iyang kalag.” (Manding, whom we terribly miss. Please pray for her soul.)

This one indicates that the tomb contains the remains of two people.

Below the stone is a mark which read: Italian Roy(?) D. Guidetti – CEBU – Mabini 92-94. Arnold explained that Guidetti was the original owner of the Vision Theater which still stands in Colon today (beside Chowking).

This last one contains the most moving message. In fact, it almost made me cry. Hehehe. It read: “Kikay; Ang kinabuhi alang kanaco ug sa imong mga anak mapait; Sukad sa pag himulag mo kanamo; Lon lon kasakit, kasubo ug kamingaw, and among guinatagamtam sa kanunay. Oh Palad!

(Kikay; Life for me and your children has been very difficult; Since you went away; For always, we feel pain, grief, and longing. Oh fate!)