Another year and another day to waste at the nearest cemetery. It’s still Halloween in the United States (the Philippines is 15 hours ahead of California, which is the time zone I use for this website – something I’ll explain elsewhere). It’s the first of November here.
The first is “All Saints’ Day” or “Araw ng mga Patay” (Day of the Dead) for the Catholic Filipinos. In some areas, Filipinos spend both the first and the second (All Souls’ Day) at the cemetery. Most people in my neck of the woods only spend the first. It’s called “fiesta ng mga patay”, which means “feast of the dead” because that’s what they do while at the cemetery, among other things.
I wrote about going last year and that’s enough. It was a waste of my time last year and it would be a waste of my time this year. I don’t speak their language fluently enough to converse with it. There really isn’t anyone I can talk to who speaks my language fluently.
My wife, Josie, and my daughter-in-law, Cathy, speak English well enough. The problem is they can’t hold conversations in two languages at the same time and the other people won’t leave them alone long enough to speak English only.
But that’s not the reason I don’t want to go. I firmly believe the dead belong with the dead and the living belong with the living. The cemetery houses the dead and I don’t want to be around dead people longer than it takes to pay my respects at a funeral.
I understand both the religious and the cultural aspects of the “holiday” the Filipinos celebrate. I don’t agree with the holiday but I won’t publicly speak against it.
Josie and some of her relatives spent all day yesterday cooking all kinds of food to be eaten today. They even spent a few hours this morning before they left for the cemetery. All I can say at this point is there was enough food taken away to feed me (yes, just me) for about a month.
It’s a good thing I didn’t go with the rest of them because something unexpected happened.
We’ve waited months for a balikbayan box from our older son, Joseph. For whatever reasons, it took more than twice as long as it should have taken to get here. It arrived today and I was the only one around to sign for it (there are only three people with Cunningham as a last name living in this compound).
After I stowed the package in the living room, I walked up and down the street once, just for a bit of exercise. Once was almost too much. It was freaking hot out there. It’s supposed to cool down in November but I have no idea what day that’ll be. I can only imagine how hot it is in the cemetery with all the people (thousands) and all the cement.
By: RT Cunningham
October 31, 2016
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