01 Nov2006


For some reason, for as long as I can remember, folks have flocked in droves to the cemeteries to pay respect to their ancestors today, November 1st. In my youth, I distinctly recall the nightmare traffic jams that would occur near the entrances of major cemeteries and the stories of family friends et al as they recounted cemetery scenes from poignant to outrageous…the latter being described as the card playing or mahjong cum buffet gatherings graveside. My family never did the cemetery trips on November 1 or 2. Partially because my maternal grandparents’ (who were executed by the Japanese during WWII) gravesite sits on a plot near their seaside summer home in Bohol, and a solemn marker identifies the actual site of their tragic murder. So while I visited the site on summer trips, we never made the trip for All Souls’ Day. My father’s parents, on the other hand, are buried in Cebu, near a huge cockpit at my grandfather’s request…

But I have always wondered why the crowds flocked to the cemeteries on saint2November 1st, which is actually All Saints’ Day, with All Souls’ Day occurring on November 2. Not to be presumptuous or anything, but I hardly think everyone’s ancestors would qualify as “saints,” if you know what I mean… So there is that little discrepancy that has always nagged at me… if you were going to pay your respects, shouldn’t it be tomorrow, November 2, and not today for historical accuracy? So since we have condoned this ambiguity between saints and sinners on November 1st, I thought the photo above would be appropriate for this post. This beautiful piece in carved wood, paint and ivory belonged to my grandmother, then my mother and now it is with me. I honestly have no clue if it is a saint, or simply a mother (almost all of whom would probably qualify as a saint in Marketman’s more lenient saint qualification rules book, by the way) praying to one…



  1. fried-neurons says:

    Hi MM,

    See my comment in your Halloween cookie post for my theory about this. :)

    Nov 1, 2006 | 9:25 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    fried neurons…THANK YOU for THAT!!! Now it makes sense, the Aztecs/Catholics merger of ideas…how incredibly interesting!!! All readers should go to the cookie post and Fried Neurons comment for that “oh, I learned yet another thing today” moment… Hmmm, does that mean I go visit my mom today or tomorrow (recently transfered to a nearby church)… And here is a link for those of you who are interested in the melding of holidays, cultures, religions, nationalities, etc…I find this fascinating…Thanks again Fried Neurons, obviously they aren’t all FRIED…more like electronically enhanced…heehee! I am so amazed and the explanations why the celebration is joyful and a party are enlightening as opposed to being solemn and sad… If the idea is to spend time with dead relatives, definitely count me in for cremation, then my descendants can take me out of the crypt for a few days every year and let me hang out with them…

    Nov 1, 2006 | 9:54 am

  4. joy says:

    Was i the only one who noticed that you said your father was buried near a cokpit??

    interesting, do tell us the story behind that…

    In our province do that would not be so weird as the Chinese cemetery in our province ( Cagayan – way up north )is located near the town cokpit. LOL =)

    Nov 1, 2006 | 10:33 am

  5. Marketman says:

    Hi Joy, good catch. Yes, my grandfather was a lawyer by profession but an avid cockfighter. He had dozens of “Texas” or other chicken duelers in his stable. When he passed away, he requested that he be buried near a cockpit so they purchased a plot in a big cemetery but within a ston’es throw of a nearby cockpit. Btw, you are the last reader who expressed interest in the Eyeball but from whom I haven’t received a confirmation by email. I sent you an email to inquire but perhaps you didn’t get it…please let me know if I should give the slot to someone on the waitlist…thanks!

    Nov 1, 2006 | 10:40 am

  6. wil-b cariaga says:

    in Vigan we just walk to go to the cemetery to avoid traffic, its just a few blocks away from our house, and I remember my grandma making dozens of sandwiches and bringing drinks so we won’t buy food from vendors anymore. . . they were saying I used to sing happy birthday when i was a kid and blow the candles id the cemetery hahaha. . . weird kid. . .

    Nov 1, 2006 | 12:30 pm

  7. joy says:

    i most definitely confirm I am coming, MM. I would not miss that chance…

    Nov 1, 2006 | 12:49 pm

  8. Marketman says:

    Thanks Joy, that completes my list! See you Saturday!

    Nov 1, 2006 | 12:54 pm

  9. catalina says:

    Looks like the Mater Dolorosa at the foot of the Cross in Calvary–but you may be right, MM, it could be a mater dolorosa praying to THE Mater Dolorosa. Whichever, that is a truly beautiful piece you inherited from your grandmother. Inggit ako :-) Any idea how much that is worth today?

    Nov 1, 2006 | 2:07 pm

  10. ishdafish says:

    It’s a matter of which is the day off, I guess.

    Back in the 70s, when I was a kid and economics or presidents didn’t mess up everything including holidays, people used to go to cemeteries on November 2. Those who went on November 1 went in the evening, and stayed till midnight or past. (These were usually people like us who needed to go back to Manila on the day of November 2, because daddy and mommy had to go back to work. )

    Back then, November 2 was also an official holiday, as was Rizal’s birthday and July 4. October 31 was too, I think, but I’m not sure.

    Nov 1, 2006 | 8:08 pm

  11. NYCMama says:

    I also believe this is Mater Dolorosa. My great grand had a lifesize one, although dressed in black, but the face has the same expression. I am very jealous about the eyeball on Saturday!

    Nov 1, 2006 | 10:52 pm

  12. sylvia says:

    If I remember right, my father told me long ago that the story behind the tradition of going to the cemeteries on All Saints’ Day is that people went on that day to clean and spruce up deceased relatives’ tombs in preparation for All Souls’ Day. And, I guess, all that work makes one hungry & thirsty hence the picnic food. Of course, nowadays you hire men to clean up the tombs/plots in preparation for your coming.

    Nov 2, 2006 | 4:02 am

  13. Maria Clara says:

    Beautiful imahen. The ivory face stands out well. Very saintly. It is invaluable – family heirloom piece. Take good care of the imahen. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Nov 2, 2006 | 4:26 am

  14. MasPinaSarap says:

    My grandfather actually died on All Saint’s Day a little over a decade ago. Since then, we light candles, pray, and set out an extra plate of food, cigarettes, candies, and water/Royal for our dead relatives on that day so that they will come and eat. When we wake up, we eat what we can, in the belief that it gives us strength.
    This is fairly common for us Filipinos, no?

    Nov 2, 2006 | 7:39 am


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