Friday, November 2, 2007

November One

Every year, since as long as I can remember - as do most Filipinos, our family would troop to the cemetery to visit relatives who have gone ahead of us. Memories of my younger days included the preparation of flowers the night before, waking very early (the sun still not up), drinking hot choco, getting ready to go to the cemetery and finally braving the hundreds of people who would so the exact same thing.

For us, it became a family reunion of some sort. As the oldies of the clan would gather around the tombs, us younger ones would often be made to sit still and listen to their chit chat. We would listen to their stories - of our relatives who have gone ahead, who they were, happy memories, funny ones. Heart warming stories - to be heard year after year after year. And as the years went by, through those stories, it is as if you actually knew the relatives who we never even met.

Up until I was 9, we used to visit the parents of my Grandpa. It was upon my grandpa's orders that we needed to go to the cemetery every November 1. We would go very early and would go home in the afternoon. I never met them. And then when I was 10, it was my grandpa we were already visiting. And then it was upon the order of my Dad that we had to go the cemetery every November 1. He would prepare flower arrangements the night before. Ikebana with a mix of Filipino taste to it. But visits became shorter.

Yesterday, we went. I brought my 2 boys with me. We visit 4 people at our family plot- my grandpa (1991), dad (2004), mom (2005) and my grandma (2006). In the next years, it will be my pleasure to share with my boys stories of their great grandparents and grandparents - who they were, why we love them, funny stories about them, sad and painful stories as well. It will be my turn to warm their hearts through these stories. It will be my privilege.

For many Filipinos, November 1 becomes a festivity of sorts.

For me, I think it will always be a heartwarming experience that I will always look forward to year after year after year.


C said...

I've never experienced All Saints Day in the Philippines (is that what it's called?). My grandmother would love for us to all be there during this time because she makes a trip to the family mausoleum every year.

I've been told that it's quite the experience! Family members stay up late and get together and enjoy each other's company. All the storytelling and memoirs must be so special.

I was in the Philippines a few years ago for my aunt's funeral and it was such a surreal experience. We had to sleep in shifts because a bunch of us stayed up to entertain all the people who were paying their respects. Some of us had to be at the cemetary, while others took a brief snooze. I love being part of a culture that celebrates family the way we do. There were so many visitors and there was sort of like a fiesta. Though it was sad, it was also a heartwarming experience.

Oh! This comment is SO long!! I'll wrap it up now! LOL!

Lovely post, Louann! xo

Shana said...

Memories are the one thing that the living can hold on to and help keep their loved ones memory alive! I too share a lot with my children about my Grandparents.

Alicia said...

I have always been intrigued by this tradition. It seems like such a great time of memories and festivities and family. I'm glad you are carrying it on for your boys!

Midas said...

I remember November 1, or Kalag-kalag. We'd visit all our dead relatives, then have big meal afterwards. We spent lots of money on flowers. I don't think there is a day for visiting the dead here. At least, not that I am aware of.