Friday, November 4, 2011

Of Souls and Saints 2: Visiting the Old San Pablo Municipal Cemetery

* one of the entrances to San Pablo Municipal Cemetery

* Trailer Pransis posing beside the grave of our relatives

Rereading the novel “Noli Me Tangere” (particularly the chapter about All Saints’ Day) has encouraged me once again to do my own visit of the cemetery and see first hand the activities (and traditions) that the Filipinos have come to keep and/or incorporate in remembering the saints and the dead. But a visit on All Saints’ Day (and sometimes even on All Souls’ Day itself) is no longer practicable primarily because of the number of people who troop to the cemetery and the high possibility of having your things lost or of getting yourself trampled (if you’re not smart enough to go with the flow of the people). I can make myself through easily in a large crowd but laziness took over and I opted to visit San Pablo City’s old cemetery a few days before November 1, dragging along my ever-reluctant sister. (As a further note, a new cemetery called ‘Memorial’ is found in Brgy. San Gabriel. I think there is also a new cemetery in the area of Brgy. San Ignacio.)

* views of the San Pablo Municipal Cemetery

The usual things can still be observed inside the cemetery: people selling candles and flowers; people asking you for painting jobs or people lending light bulbs (plus electricity lines of course) for those who will stay at night. Personally, I have never been a religious follower of tradition and so it looked somewhat awkward for us to visit our relatives’ grave without any candle or flowers to offer. In any case, I thought our presence was good enough.

* a towering Ferris Wheel in a perya put up near San Pablo Municipal Cemetery

As an observation, the overcrowding of the roads leading to the cemeteries is not caused by the number of people visiting. It is actually because of the stalls put up on the road sides. These stalls sell clothes, toys, slippers, shoes, tattoos, among others. As always, Filipinos find it a very good place to make some money. (One has to give credit for that trait of the Filipinos.) A makeshift fair (perya!) is also present along the road leading to the cemetery. Perhaps it is one of the reasons why I am always drawn to the cemetery during these days – I practically grew up visiting every perya sprouting in the city proper.

* an old house found on M. Leonor Street,
the street leading to San Pablo Municipal Cemetery

* Los Filipinos Bakery, still found on M. Leonor Street

* Fish-da Bakeshop, still found on M. Leonor Street

As an end-thought, what I missed doing is taking pictures of those big mausoleums inside the cemetery. I still have not come into terms with their presence. (But such musings can be reserved for next year.)

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