Day of the dead....
Today, November 2, is All Souls Day. According to Catholic tradition, this is the day of the year when we remember and pray for our departed loved ones. It's a bit ironic when you consider that we normally associate November 1, or All Saints Day instead, as the appropriate day for trooping to the cemeteries, lighting candles, and praying for our deceased relatives, when strictly speaking, it should be November 2.
November 1, or All Saints Day, was meant to be the day of year in which Catholics honor the saints, both known and unknown. However, Filipino custom has somehow intertwined the practice of venerating the dead with November 1, instead of November 2 as provided in the Catholic calendar.
This year didn't seem that conducive to visiting your loved ones' graves especially if they're located in far off provinces. Only November 1 was declared a holiday, and being a Wednesday, smack dab in the middle of the week, it didn't leave much allowance for traveling off to distant locations.
In my case, it didn't really matter. I just stayed home.
It's been a while since I last went to a cemetery. When I was younger and when our family was closer knit, me, my two sisters and my parents would pack our old 1983 Ford Laser Hatchback for a two hour drive to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija to visit the graves of my grandparents from my mother's side. I never got to know them though, they died a few years before I was born.
After spending the morning in Cabanatuan City, we would then head on out to Sto. Domingo, also in Nueva Ecija, about an hour's drive away. Here we would visit the graves of my grandparents on my father's side. They I got to know, and they lived to ripe old ages. My Dad's father, whom we called Tatang passed away in 1985, well into his 90s. My Dad's mother, whom we called Inang, died seven years later, in her late 80s.
Late in the afternoon, we would drive back to Quezon City just in time for dinner, assuming any of us weren't too tired to eat.
The last time we did this was so long ago that I can't even remember when anymore. Since that time a lot has changed. My sisters and I got married (with mixed results), had children, and my parents are now also grandparents.
Now, gas prices and toll fees are much higher, and hardly anyone of us can afford to buy a new car to be able to make the jaunt without breaking down by the side of the road. Of course, that isn't really an excuse. I guess as we got older, we had our own priorities, responsibilities, and things to do, and we never really made the time to visit our grandparents' final resting places again.
Which is quite a shame.
If I were dead, I would certainly be saddened if no one came to visit me.
Well, my uncles and aunts from both my father's and mother's side would probably visit my grandparents' graves. They live in the general area, so travel time isn't really an issue.
But it's not the same as really being there. I hope I can visit them soon one of these days. I'd have a lot of stories to tell them.
If I had the chance, I'd probably say to them:
"Inang, Tatang, Lolo, Lola, ako po yung apo ninyong si Ronald. Nasa mabuti naman kaming kalagayan, kaming mga nandito pa. Maraming mga problema, pero nagagawan din naman ng paraan. Pasensya na po at matagal na po akong di nakakadalaw. Sana nasa mabuting lagay rin kayo.
Or something like that.
I wonder what they would say?