Remembering the Departed the Filipino Way
All Saints Day - which is celebrated every 1st of November - is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church. Generally, it is a holy day of Obligation in which all Catholics are required to attend mass unless there is a significant excuse such as illness.
In the Philippines, All Saints Day is a widely celebrated religious holiday which is intended for everyone to remember their loved ones and pay respect to those who have passed away. Thousands of Filipino families go back to the cemetery or graveyard where their loved ones are buried bringing with them flowers and candles which they offer for the deceased. A few days before the event, you will find families repainting and fixing any damage that has happened to the tombs over time, in preparation for the visit on the 1st of November.
Whilst at the cemetery, some families say a short prayer for their loved ones who passed away as a sign of respect and remembrance to them.
As early as dawn or even the night before November 1st, some families will already be in the cemetery camping out and enjoying a family get-together as if they are spending quality time with their loved ones who are no longer with them. Most families bring food with them which is enough for the entire day as most people stay in the cemetery for at least a full day and even overnight.
With the belief that the spirits of their loved one’s roam around looking for their families on this Memorial Day, some people - especially the youth - sing and rejoice as an expression of their celebration.
Due to the huge number of people heading to different cemeteries in every part of the country, police officers, health volunteers and safety officers are on alert for even the few days before the actual event.
While other families celebrate All Saints Day, for some it is an emotional day as the grief of losing a family member seems to become fresh again. Some consider this as a day of reflection to tell the spirits of their loved ones that even though they are gone, their memories will stay in their hearts forever.
Filipinos are known to have very close family ties and a high value around family ties, and this is particularly important during this of all the public holidays in the Philippines.