Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Long Journey of the Dead in the Philippines

I have never realized the stretch of time (if not space) the dead has to wait until his or her spirit can finally lay to that proverbial eternal peace until this year.

To the place of the dead loved one gravitates the relatives, friends, spectators, and gamblers alike. No bright or happy colors. No bathing, in some cases. No ‘thank yous’ to be uttered. The things that the dead were using on his death are to be buried. No laughter or happy talks. Just plain mourning.

On the day of the funeral, as the casket is being carried outside, one has to break a plate or a bowl. A person also has to remain to sweep the place clean finally.

The fortieth day of the person’s death has to be commemorated too. A short prayer (generally called dasalan) and a small salu-salo is included in this occasion.

And still no happy colors for the rest of the year until the first death anniversary comes. A baba(a)ng luksa is held to finally appease the soul of the dead loved one and for the relatives to be able to move on. A ceremonial black veil is worn by the person closest to the person and at one point during the chant-like prayer ceremony it is thrown out to be replaced by a white one. A happy meal is then celebrated, with the happy tone that was almost snuffed out in the past twelve months finally pervading.

This is by no means exhaustive. I am just writing these to exorcise my naivety and ignorance of such practices in the country. This is also to open a way for any chance reader to extend this short list. A research for this is also in order.

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