One of the most significant familial traditions that has been passed from one Filipino generation to another is honoring the dead. Since the Philippines is the only Catholic country in Southeast Asia with a majority of Catholics, we put heavy emphasis on the days of remembrance.
The All Souls’ Day or Undas is a day for praying Novena and requiem masses for our beloved ones who are deemed to be in Purgatory. It is best to visit your deceased relatives in the cemeteries during this day (November 2). However, most Filipinos prefer to visit on the All Saints’ Day or Todos los Santos (November 1).
As early as 30th of October until the 2nd of November, crowds of people will flock to the nearby cemeteries. They will clean the gravestones, bring the flowers, light the candles, and say the heartfelt prayers. This is how Filipinos honor the dead.
Particularly, Filipino families commonly spend the “All Souls’ Day” in these following ways:
1. Family members shower their beloved with affection in the form of flowers and candles. We usually build a tent around our grandmother’s grave and display her picture on the gravestone or lapida.
2. Family members will delegate someone to be in charge of the Novena and worship songs. They shall continue the 9-Day Novena practice at home or at the cemetery.
3. Attending the mass in honor of their deceased relatives is usually guaranteed. The names of the dead relatives will be announced in the church. This is done to send the prayer of salvation for their souls.
4. Family members gather around the graves to offer candles and flowers. They will celebrate the memory of their loved ones by eating, singing, and laughing. Telling stories about the good experiences they shared with their beloved is certain.
5. Bringing your own food is encouraged during the family gathering. But, one thing is for sure! The dead relative’s favorite dishes will be served.
6. Individuals who choose to stay at the cemetery can sleep there overnight along with their friends and family members. On the next day, family members will tidy up the graves as the festive season comes to a close.
Reading how packed and eventful this season is, you must employ several tricks to beat the stress and “Undas rush”. Start with these hacks:
1. Book airline tickets or transportation fares in advance.
Not only will the tickets be cheaper months before, but it will also secure your spot. Airports, seaports, and bus terminals get unbelievably crowded during this annual season. There is a high demand for transportation and scarce seating capacities. Do you really want to risk that?
2. Aside from purchasing your travel fares in advance, you must do the same for candles and other essentials.
The prices of the items that are necessary for Undas rise on the days leading up to November 1 and 2. Stock up on candles, paper plates, and disposable utensils at least one month before. Purchasing in advance means that you can pluck the best ones.
3. Be informed about the migration peak in order to avoid getting trapped in traffic.
The massive outpour of commuters will start on October 30 and end on November 2. If you live in the provinces, ensure that you leave before October 30.
The opposite applies if you leave closer to the city capital. In most cases, it is easier to travel in the afternoon of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Most of the roads that do not lead up to the cemeteries are relatively cleared by then.
4. If all else fails, visit the grave of your special someone during off-peak season.
Need I say more?