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

Sunday, September 23, 2012


In front of the church all coffins are parked, 
and then moved into the church for the mass
My neighbor passed away a week ago. She was old, but could speak English quite well and liked to talk to me. She was the first neighbor who talked to me when we started to build our house, now almost two years ago. Now and then we met and had a brief social talk.

She left a husband and grand (grand) children, as her only child and son died already years ago.

As is usual in the Philippines, the dead body gets a kind of balsam, as they are exposed in a coffin for a week or so without any cooling. Temperature here is on average 30 degrees Celsius at daytime.

The coffin is installed in the house of the deceased, the body exposed in the coffin and  candles, lights and flowers are surrounding the coffin. Also an ad from the funeral company (funeraria) is displayed and there is a small reading desk with a condolences register and a box to drop money for the funeral.

I remember that when my own father passed away, see my blog post  Pa, thanks for all, two and a half year ago, the staff of the moratorium was concerned about his visible and chemical condition until the funeral a week later despite there was cooling of the body most of the day, as the funeral could not be held earlier due to a funeral backlog from the Christmas and New Year period.

What amazes me every time is that the face looks so much younger than when the person was alive. I guess it is caused by the way they balsam and do the makeup.

Being a westerner, I am surprised again and again when I go to a funeral in the Philippines and compare it with my own experience when my father passed away and we had our own funeral. It seems that in the Philippines the emotions are managed totally different from the way we do it in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands the gathering of family and friends is usually on the day of the funeral or cremation. All the other days before the funeral are for organizing the funeral, sending postcards to inform family and friends. Also the body is not in home but in the moratorium. So the day of the funeral is the culmination of what has been prepared and emotions finally explode that last day.

Here people come together immediately after the body is prepared for presentation and they repeat this every day until the funeral. They also help to make a kind of tent or shelter to protect the visitors for the rain and sun. So they can share their grieve and emotions a week long. That is the average time before the body will be buried.

People eat, talk, play cards and gamble for money that will be spent for the funeral. Children are joining as well and play, for them it is like a big party and they enjoy it. It is a time for family reunion and strengthening the family ties. These days there is even a karaoke or videoke system available the night before the funeral, and guests can sing until late in the night. I am not sure if this new habit is for the deceased or for the singers themselves.

The funeral itself is usually on a Wednesday or Saturday. In this case it was Saturday morning 8.00 AM. Family, friends and neighbors collect at the house of the deceased and when the coffin and flowers are placed in the funeral-car or -coach, the procession will begin, after some final bangs of the fireworks.

If the deceased will be buried in the local cemetery everyone will follow the car or coach by walking. In this case the family decided to bury our neighbor in Manaoag, the famous Lourdes-like divine place some 15 km from Sta. Barbara, so the followers went by car or jeepney. Therefor there was no car with a sound-system following the funeral car, as is usually the case when the followers are going to walk.

The church where we went to is also called "The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag" and usually very busy, but especially on Wednesday's and Saturday's. Also this morning. I counted 8 coffins in front of the church, waiting for being moved into the church for the funeral mass. You can imagine with so many coffins, how many people gathered there. I guess each deceased has 20-40 followers, so that makes 250 followers this day.

After the mass the coffin goes to the local cemetery. We didn't join this part of the funeral and I don't know the details. However, I believe I am right that the body is left in the cemetery in a tombe build of hollow blocks, but the coffin returns to the funeraria. So it is a coffin rent service, while we have in the Netherlands usually a coffin buy service.

Anyone who has more details on this part is requested to add a comment. My believe is based on the fact that some coffins I have seen that morning seem to be not new, as they have some scratches and stains in the paint.


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