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Halloween II

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Eyewitness Account “All Saints’ Day” in Leyte

Halloween II

“The Day Of The Dead”


Every culture has rituals for the passing of loved ones.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Today is November 1, 2012, “All Saints’ Day” in the Republic of the Philippines. In the Spanish and Latin American culture, the day is known as, “The Day Of The Dead.” When I lived in the United States, I always heard about the annual “Day Of The Dead” celebrations in Mexico, but, I never had the opportunity to go to Mexico.

Essentially, “The Day Of The Dead” in the Philippines is “Memorial Day” in the United States. The names, “All Saints’ Day” and “The Day Of The Dead” seem to both be used for the annual observance in Leyte. The major difference, of course, is the way that the two holidays differ in terms of observance between the Philippines and the United States.

In the United States, wreaths and flowers are placed around the headstones. If you recognize friends and neighbors, then, you stand and “visit”, while usually another family member “decorates” the graves with flowers.

This evening, in Leyte, my wife, Christy, I, and members of her family went to Tanauan to the cemetery for the “All Saints’ Day” and “The Day Of The Dead” observances.

I took my trusty Nikon D 100 camera, but the low-light levels did not allow me to get any photos. The obvious difference began the moment, we stepped out of the trike. A woman offered to sell my wife slender white candles.

The lit candle is an important symbol to remember loved ones who have left The Real World.”

We walked toward a canopy structure. The canopy is a wise investment in the Philippines because it provides shade in the intense sunlight and heat. October is “Monsoon Season”, so a canopy helps you get in out of the rain. Four uniformed Philippine National Police officers were on duty, under the canopy, which had the black magic marker hand lettered signs that proclaimed: Entrance” and “Exit.”

When was the last time you went to a cemetery that had “traffic control” as a concern ?

In watching some television coverage of “All Saints Days” and “The Day Of The Dead” observances around the Philippines today, the crowds going into and coming out of cemeteries were enormous, especially in the television coverage of some of the more well-known cemeteries in Manila.

Imagine a stadium full of Super Bowl attendees strolling across the street into a local cemetery, then, you have a visual picture of the crowd that was entering one cemetery in Manila on the television.

The police officers at the San Miguel Cemetery in Tanauan were there to provide traffic control as well as security. The Entrance point under the canopy was a local narrow city street that passed between two concrete walls.

Cemetery Capitalism

The concept of “American Capitalism” was not lost on the holiday. On both sides of the narrow street, there were small stands of vendors “selling” everything from candles, matches, butane cigarette lighters, to cotton candy, Filipino snack food and even some trinket type jewelry.

While some people in the United States would be uneasy about “buying and selling” activities going on so close to a cemetery; the culture in the Philippines is a “life-oriented” culture. The people do their best to “enjoy” their lives, so they usually have an almost carnival environment around everything they do. The crowd of people flowed in both directions with people “shopping” their way to the cemetery.

City Of The Dead

As you approach the actual entrance to the cemetery, it reminded me of the Louisiana cemeteries, which are sometimes called, “The City Of The Dead.” Louisiana like the Philippines has the soil and flooding issues with water, thus, people are laid to rest inside a concrete casket on the ground and there are paths between the graves. There is a variety of grave sites, which have the basic concrete casket to rebar framework that creates tall, compact mausoleum.

One grave, I noticed, had a statue of a man in his formal white barong and black dress slacks forever standing at the head of his grave and looking into eternity. Some of the grave sites even had canopies in place to allow people to sit by the graves and “visit” with their friends and neighbors. The sun was setting as we took the trike ride to Tanauan, so the candle flames were welcome sights in the darkness.

I noticed three members of a family who had the slender white candles sitting on the concrete casket. The tiny candle flames in the distance gave the young children a warm comfortable glow.

Lapida Markers

Each of the concrete caskets had a placard on it that contained the information found on headstones in cemeteries in the United States. Some of the “Lapidas”, the placards, had the information hand painted.

Other lapidas, showed the skill of local “Lapida Makers”, who carve in the information and sometimes add artwork like a cross or embed photographs into the lapida. We strolled past the graves toward the church. People, who have the graves of loved ones to visit settle in by the graves.
People, whose loved ones grave site has disappeared through the years visit the church. The sturdy stone church looked like it belonged to the era of “The Crusades”, except for the tin roof overhead. The well-worn wooden church pews suggested this church had had Spanish soldiers in the congregation in the early days of the Philippines.

The Saint Michael The Archangel Statue rested on a concrete out-cropping on the back wall. The priest used the microphone to preach his sermon in Waray. The congregation in the pews listened to his sermon, while people quietly filtered into the back of the church to listen and position candles on the floor by the wall. The white candles were put on the floor by the churches’ stone walls.

The candles are then lit, in honor of a loved one and allowed to burn down into a puddle of wax. Sometimes the burning candles would fall over and burn away at the church’s stone wall until the candle had become a puddle of drying wax.

Once your candle is a puddle of wax, then, you leave the church with the knowledge that you have sent your prayer and blessings into the Afterlife to your loved ones.

Halloween’s Hallowed History

Halloween is the holiday, which is the ancient “holy day,” when the ancient Celtic farmers thanked their pagan gods for the year’s crop harvest, they asked for the blessings for the coming year and there was the belief you could “talk” to or ask for the blessings from your ancestors.

Halloween was “The Point Of No Return.” Spring and summer were gone. Winter was on the horizon. Halloween was when the “Living” ask the “Dead” for advice and counsel to make it through the fall and winter months. Since the “Living” farmers were actively seeking the advice and counsel of “Dead” ancestors – in effect, the “Living” were inviting souls or spirits in the Afterlife to return for a short period of time.

Thus, the idea of “The Veil Between The Worlds Being Thin” has merit because the “Living” were trying to make it easy for their “Loved Ones” to “visit.” The ancient Celt farmers in their practice were known to use huge bonfires, during their “Samhain”(pronounced “Sow – win”) celebrations. The smart farmers would clear their fields of stubble, dead cornstalks and brush by burning their large brush piles, while sending a very visible signal to their “ancestors” in the Afterlife.

Since some of those spirits may have accepted the invitations; it is little wonder that Halloween became the evening when “Ghosts” were suppose to be “out and about.”

Cemetery Caretaker Concerns

During this week, people have been going by with the tools needed to fix up around the grave sites, in anticipation, for today’s “All Saints’ Day” and “Day Of The Dead” observance. Local people explain how some family members have spent the past few evenings sleeping in the cemetery getting ready for today’s “celebration,” which allows the “Living” to share some of their life with their deceased loved ones.

Where in the United States are you going to find families spending a few days and nights “camped out” in the cemetery and celebrating life with deceased loved ones ?

The rituals of Halloween is about “Inviting ghosts to briefly walk among us.” Halloween is also about wearing “costumes”, in the hopes that the disguise, will keep us “masked” against those spirits that we do not wish to deal with.

Halloween II – The Day After Halloween – “All Saints’ Day”,“The Day Of The Dead”, November 1 – then, is the polite reminder from the “Living” to the deceased loved ones that they are probably ready to return to their Afterlife and leave The Real World until next year.

When the sun rises, November 2, the “All Saints’ Day” and “The Day Of The Dead” celebration for the island of Leyte, in the Republic of the Philippines will be over for this year based on what I have learned in talking with Filipino family members.

"Ancestor Worship"

I have learned over the years that the World’s Major Religions do not like the term “ancestor worship.” And, the World’s Major Religions discourage the “Living” from trying to “talk” to the dead.

Nonetheless, in the History Of Human Civilization, the various rituals are a form of “ancestor worship” and people throughout history have tried to “talk” to a loved one in the Afterlife, in spite of, different religion’s strict dogma.

The message is simple: “We humans have the “gut instinct” that we are all “connected” to a Universal Force that lived before us and will continue after us and we need to know we are always a part of that Universal Force.”


Halloween’s Humanity Heritage

Halloween is the holiday that has always survived religious persecution because it offers hope of an Afterlife and the belief that reincarnation is a reality.

The other significant benefit of Halloween is that it reminds people of the “Darkness” in each person and other people and to be ready to deal with the negative, rather than to try to “ignore” it.

Even more important, Halloween is one of those “holy days” that has evolved beyond the different segregated religions into a “Secular Holiday” to become a day with it’s own agenda that involves everything from kids going “Trick Or Treat” to people seeking out paranormal sites and searching for supernatural answers.

Halloween is “Humanity’s Holiday”. Halloween is the one time, each year, when people around the world, take the time, to venture into the less than “logical” and “rationale” areas of life and can usually kick their shoes off inside their heads and finally make the time to look around their mind for answers.

Halloween II – The Spirits’ Roundup

Halloween II, is one of those holidays that probably still needs work. Saints and martyrs, of course, are suppose to be able to convince any procrastinating spirits to leave The Real World and return to The Afterlife. The big flaw in getting saints and martyrs to “ride roundup” on the “Absent Without Leave” spirits is: Saints and Martyrs are All Dead. Sending a “Dead” spirit or soul to roundup the spirits who linger; is probably, not an award-winning idea.

If you don’t have your “Exorcism Ritual” on the nightstand by the bed, you might want to make sure the phone number of a local exorcist is loaded into your cell phone.

Sam

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Written by samwarren55

November 1, 2012 at 11:56 PM

2 Responses

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    November 29, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    • Benito,

      Thank you for the feedback I love to write. I love movies. This Halloween, I decide to write up some movie reviews because I had never really written any before. I like to come up with different information to surprise, inform and entertain my readers. I’m working now on trying to get a handle on “Black Market” movies in Asia. It seems nothing is sacred in life anymore, when people start ripping off and trying to make a profit off of illegal movies. Then, again the global economy is in the toilet, so people are probably just trying to survive.

      Nonetheless, I’m doing my homework on illegal movies. Stay tuned.

      Sam

      samwarren55

      November 29, 2012 at 6:21 PM


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