It’s been drizzling on and off the whole day, not really the best weather for one of the major holidays in the Philippines. As the western part of the world celebrates Halloween, the Filipino people celebrate All Saints’ Day.
Wikipedia defines All Saints’ Day as the day Christians celebrate all the saints of the church, both known and unknown. The following day, November 2nd which is All Souls’ Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.
As many things in the Philippines, these beliefs has been turned upside down and mixed up into things uniquely local, that which should have been celebrated on the second of November has been switched with that for the first.
So it is that every first of November, an exodus takes place around the whole country, the destination; the local cemeteries.
Even with such a somber subject for a holiday, this turns into an all out festivities for the Filipinos. Not out of disrespect for the departed ones, but more of celebrating the life they had while living amongst us.
Families from near and far gather round their relative’s respective tombs and mausoleums; lighting candles and saying prayers for their passed beloveds, swapping memories and stories about yesteryears.
Food are passed around; children congregate on the candles, collecting drippings to be turned into the biggest ball of wax as they can; and people mill around the grounds, looking at all the curious tombs and the architecture of the dead.
Documenting all these has been a yearly thing for me since I got my very first camera in 2006. This year however was different. I have work ‘til three in the afternoon and I only got to the cemetery by dusk. The constant drizzling did not help at all too.
Eventually, the darkness of the night enveloped the land. With flickering candles and a few bare bulbs illuminating the burial grounds, the heavens finally decided to cooperate and the rain at last stopped.
I immediately snatched my gear up, excitedly trudged my way through the throng of people, and bore the wet and muddy streets of the Tugatog Public Cemetery. It was time to document this year’s All Saints’ Day.