The Philippines is known for its traditional Christian values. This is shown in many ways around the country in everyday life. Churches are filled with worshippers, the people trust in God, and our family values are placed above most other things. Among our most important religious holidays are Christmas, Holy Week and 'Undas', which is All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day and is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November each year, and because it coincides with the celebration of halloween in the USA and other places, it is not unsual to find some spooky themes happening around the place. But in the Philippines it is really not about spooks and witches.
It is the celebration of religious holidays that brings even more of the family aspect of our lives to light. Visitors from other countries who happen to be here during the Undas celebration are amazed by the colour and happiness everywhere they go. Instead of just making a quiet, reserved visit to the cemetery to show respect for deceased relatives by cleaning around the graves and placing a few flowers, many Filipinos use the occasion for a big family get together with a party atmosphere. Of course, there will be visits to church and prayers said for the departed souls, but somehow all this combines into what might look like an oversized family picnic to someone from a western culture.
|(Photo is borrowed from various sites on the web)|
Just as it is during Holy Week, travel around the Philippines is very congested with so many people trying to visit the graves of loved ones by land, sea and evenby air. Flower sellers do a busy trade as do food vendors.
This occasion isn't confined strictly to November 1st and 2nd however. It is not uncommon for people to visit the graves of beloved family members over several days before hand, to clean and tidy and make the place ready for visitors who may not have an opportunity to visit the cemetery at any other time of the year.