All Saints Day (November 1st) in the Philippines is a significant event. It’s a day to honour the dead, remember friends and family, as well as express gratitude to ancestors and those who made sacrifices for the future of the family.
Visiting the cemetery with flowers, painting grave sites and renewing headstones are all important parts of All Saints Day. Many family members will spend the entire day at the grave of their loved ones; like Jerry’s cousins who were busy attending to the family burial sites when we arrived this morning to visit his mother.
Jerry’s uncle (the brother of his mother) has died just recently and his two sons (first cousins of Jerry) were busy painting all the graves as well as ensuring the candles remained alight the whole day.
What you can’t see in the photos are the makeshift stalls of opportunistic sellers between the graves, groups of tombs and mausoleums. You can buy candles, matches, soft drinks and snacks, smoothies, toys, candies, flowers and heaps of other stuff all through the cemetery. I also didn’t photograph the police, army, district officials and traffic controllers all stationed throughout the site. Yes there were that many people in the cemetery!
It’s an emotional day but there is something binding in the anticipation of this day across the whole country, in the collective energy of prayer and remembrance for the people that once were.
© 2017 Melinda J. Irvine