Each year, while the rest of the world is busy with their Halloween costumes and parties, Filipinos celebrate a pretty unique and special event. Every first and second of November, Filipinos flock to the cemetery to honor their beloved dead. This age-old tradition is not only an enduring testament of how Filipinos value their family and loved ones, it also shows the Filipinos’ belief in life after death and how the worlds of the living and the dead are intertwined.
This year, as usual, I visited two cemeteries – Calamba Cemetery and Carreta Cemetery – the cemeteries where most of my friends and loved ones are buried.
Here are my photos of these year’s colorful celebration.
Thousands of vendors fill the sidewalks which lead to cemeteries. The most usual merchandise include flowers, candles, cleaning materials, and food. Occasionally, you may also find toys, hats, and even clothes.
One important belief is that since this is the day of the dead, it is important to light a candle (or keep tombs well lit) to ensure that the path of the dead back to the land of the living is clear and full of light.
Eploy lighting a few candles for my Grandma Esperanza ‘Pansang’ Romarate.
The ‘kumon’ is the big cross which is usually located in the middle of a cemetery. All catholic cemeteries have a kumon area where people can light candles, leave flowers, and do the novena. According to my mom, the kumon (basically, ‘common’) is where you light a candle and say a prayer for all the souls that have been forgotten. If you can’t find the tomb of a specific person, for example, this is where you can light a candle and pray for that person.
This area in Carreta Cemetary looks really clean and well-maintained despite the huge foot traffic on November 1 and 2. Good job, Carreta!
Services are usually held all throughout the 2-day celebration.
The horrible weather several days before the Kalag-Kalag didn’t stop people from going to the cemeteries.
Painters can fix or repaint grave markers for a minimal fee.
You may also pay young men or kids a few pesos to clean the tomb of your loved ones.
The ‘kumon’ in Carreta is manned by several workers as fire from candles can, at times, grow quite huge.
Upon leaving the cemetery, it is customary to ‘bathe’ in smoke to make sure that all bad elements/spirits do not go with you to your home. You don’t have to worry about building a fire every single time you visit a cemetery, though. Outside the cemetery, you will usually see people burning leaves and creating smoke. You can ‘expose’ yourself to the smoke if you hand the kid (or person in change) a couple of pesos.
How did you celebrate this year’s All Saints Day and All Souls Day? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you! 🙂