End Of An Era

An OUT OF CEBU Post:

I was still in bed when my mom informed me that my grandfather had died. He passed away early in the morning in my Aunt Mingga’s house. He left quietly. Almost as quietly as he usually did when he was still alive. A few years before his death, he still got up quietly every morning to prepare for a day at the farm. He kept a small farm just across the river. There, he spent the lazy hours talking to his crops and watering them. He loved his farm. He loved it as much as he loved his family. He loved it as much as he loved the hacienda.

In his younger years, when times were simpler and people were more content, his words were the law. Standing silently with watchful eyes beside the amo, he had the power to order the sugarcane plantation workers around. But he was a fair and kind man. In the lean months when pay was limited and the crops grew slowly, he was their savior. He loaned them rice, and root crops, and bread. During harvest, hundreds would flock to his office for the sweldo. And the very next day, baskets of fruits, sacks of rice, and bags of bread would fill our kitchen table.

My lolo was also a man of wisdom. People came to him for advice on just about anything. I once witnessed how a machete-weilding couple, who chased each other across the fields, kissed and made up right in front of my lolo. I once witnessed how my uncle stayed up until the wee hours of the morning because my lolo wanted to talk to him about the importance of college education. I also witnessed how he engaged his children and grandchildren in political debates to make them socially relevant.

The death of my grandfather saddened me. Not only because I am certain that I am going to miss him but also because we, the people who mattered to him have lost someone special. We’ve lost a father, a friend, a leader, a servant, and a teacher. Most importantly, we’ve lost a part of ourselves that we may never get back. It’s the end of late-night debates and early morning reflections. It’s the end of meaningful resolutions and silent introspections. It’s not just the end of one man. It’s the end of an era.

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RIP Rufino “Pino” Tepacia

My grandma never left my grandpa’s side. Even until the very end.

My cousins preparing juice packs for the funeral. In the Philippines, it is customary for the relatives of the deceased to prepare food for those who come to the wake and the funeral.

The men usually take care of the more difficult job of filling the cooler with water and ice.

The women on the other hand, prepare the snack packs which will be served after the funeral. Snack packs usually contain sandwiches or crackers and biscuits.

Hours before the actual ceremony, I went with my cousins to the cemetery to take care of a few important things.

Workers preparing my grandfather’s tomb.

Just after lunch, all members of the immediate family were told to form a line for the naug of the casket.

No member of the family is allowed to become a pallbearer. Only distant relatives, neighbors, or family friends are allowed to carry or walk beside the coffin.

My grandmother getting emotional as my grandfather’s coffin is raised.

Before the coffin is placed in the hearse, it is raised just above the head to allow the members of the family to pass underneath it.

All members of the immediate family are required to do it.

After passing underneath the coffin, family members need to keep walking straight. They are not allowed to look back or look at the coffin until it is inside the funeral car.

The start of the funeral procession to the town church.

Traditionally, relatives and family members just walk behind the funeral car.

It rained quite hard the night before. So the road was a little muddy.

The funeral procession just a few hundred meters from the house. The trek from our house to the main road is about one kilometer.

At the very end of the procession is the vehicle which carries the juice and snack packs.

The procession finally reaches the town church. The church was around 5 kilometers from the house.

The coffin is removed from the hearse.

It is then placed right in front of the altar.

Near the end of the service, the members of the family are asked to gather around the casket for the final blessing of the body.

After the mass, photos of family members standing beside the coffin are taken. This practice is not common in Cebu. In Negros, however, it is considered a tradition.

Photograph with my grandmother and the children.

Photograph with the in-laws.

And the final photograph with the grandchildren.

After this, the coffin is placed back in the funeral car. The final leg of the funeral procession begins.

More people waiting by the road for the funeral procession.

The funeral procession passing through the town market. It is customary for passersby to throw coins at the procession. This is considered a ‘donation’ to the family of the deceased.

Another 2-kilometer walk to the cemetery.

At the cemetery, the coffin is opened for the final prayer.

Members of the family are also given the opportunity to view the body for the last time. Photographs of the coffin and body are also taken.

Afterwards, the coffin is carried to the tomb.

The tomb is immediately covered. Once again, no members of the family are allowed to perform these tasks.

The people who joined the procession are then given free snacks.

Back at the house, a photograph of my grandfather was placed on a small table in the room where the coffin used to lay.

After the funeral, a small feast is held. Everyone is invited.

 UPDATE: Last Sunday, exactly one week after my grandfather was buried, my cousin Darlin passed away. We’re leaving for Negros again this Saturday for her funeral. If her name sounds familiar, Darlin was my cousin whose wedding I featured here (http://mycebuphotoblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/a-negrense-wedding/)

Rest in Peace Darlin and Papa Pino.