“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Friday, November 6, 2009

All Saint's day

Today we arrived from Thailand in the Philippines, via Clark Air Base, north Luzon, after an emotional farewell party in Bangkok organized by both companies I was working for/with.

The flight was perfect and fast, we arrived before schedule 3:00 am. I expected to arrive in the remainders of tropical typhoon "Mirinae", but nothing, no wind, no rain. It turned out that this typhoon (locally known as "Santi") has hit southern Luzon, so Clark AB was not affected.

As usual my family and my car were waiting waiting for us, my wife, mother in-law (nanay) and myself. So in the car we had, apart from us, father (tatay), 2 sisters, one brother in-law and 3 nephews, in total we were 10.

From Clark to Sta. Barbara is a 3 hours drive or less by night. As it is All Saint's day today the plan is to get some sleep first and then in the afternoon we go to the cemetery. They told me that the "party" starts in the morning until the night and even till next morning early, especially for the youngsters, they party the whole night, as it is also Haloween since October 31st. The two coincide more or less, but as far as I know Haloween has not a Christian background, but is also about the ghosts of the dead people.

We go indeed around 3:30 pm. In the middle of the town you can hardly park your car. It is crowded as I have never seen there before, even more then with Christmas Eve, whih is incredibly crowded already. We are there with my 2 cars and a lot of family. The drivers stay at the cars and we go by food to the cemetery. It is less than 100 meters from the car, but walking took us about 45 minutes, step-by-step 4-5 rows wide towards and also 4-5 rows back from the cemetery.

Along the road are many small market stalls where you can by all kinds of candles, but a bit further also Haloween articles, fruit, food and a lot of other things you don't need. It is really a kind of a market.

After a while we arrived at the cemetery itself, first in a separate area at the left some big shrines and tombes with a gate, white colored and because it is already starting to darken, lighted candles are everywhere. If we pas the gated private area we arrive at the "public" area. Many small corridors, everywhere tombes, sometimes 3 to 4 levels high. Everywhere around and on top of the tombes are people sitting, talking, enlightening candles, jumping from tomb to tomb and playing and talking youngsters. People also organise pick-nicks, the food was bought along the road or prepared at home.

We are with my wife, 3 sisters, 2 nephews and one niece in the age of 15-20 and one almost 2 years. Father and mother didn't join us, so we couldn't find the tomb of mother's family, only the father of my father in law. Nevertheless, it was impressing to see so many people on such a small area, with the same attitude and objective: to honour the dead people, family or not, they are all honored. And of course the ghosts, but that subject was forbidden to talk about. My wife is really very scared of it, so I skipped that topic on her request.

Although I didn't check, it seems that the next day(s) more people are visiting the cemetery, so the total number of people joining this important celebration must be enormous. Television the next day reported the return of many people from their home island by ferry to Manila and other large harbours in the Philippines.


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