WHEN we were still little kids growing up along Ponciano Street, the first two days of November were sober times, as they were scary. Because we had no television in my grandparents’ house where we all lived, us children had no other option but to have the old folks’ choices of radio programs as our only playlist. This was particularly true come evening time, when we were done playing outside and our neighborhood mates had all been called to their homes. As a child, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day for me were traumatic times indeed. At six or seven in the evening, the grownups would tune in to their favorite radio horror program, Gabi ng Lagim (Night of Horror), a nightly program meant to usher in Halloween. Then, the maids and the boarders would delight in watching me sit petrified at the sofa, with hands covering my ears. Seems to me, scaring little children about these two-day passage of the spirits to get out of their world and be with the living, may have been the popular fare during my time. Later on, I noticed growing children as not having the same problem, although I have never verified this to be true. However, what I have noted was this, it is the church itself that does the scaring for them.
If you have ever watched the animated film Coco, at least, the depicted Mexican tradition of All-Souls’ was not a bit scary at all, especially for little children. Perhaps, the absence of adults with hang-ups of bullying and scaring children might have added to the film’s appeal too, but here’s the thing: Whoever thought of this tradition in the first place anyway? Its concept of a special day for the dead, was originally stolen from indigenous (ergo pagan) practices, then adopted and celebrated by the Catholic Church starting with popes Boniface and Gregory. However, other denominations also celebrate the feast. These include the Anglican Communion Methodist Churches, Church of the Nazarene and the Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan) among others. As such, the All Saints’ celebration depicted in Coco is totally different from ours. For one, their day also falls on the same date as the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) celebration which honors all children who have passed on. Their second day, our All-Souls’ Day version, is dedicated solely to the adults who have died. Even as our cemetery visitations fall under tradition, the day itself is considered by the church as a Holy Day of Obligation, hence all should hear mass. Are we sinful then if we didn’t? That’s the modern scary part.
Another modern touch during this pandemic threat, which is way scarier than ghosts running about is this… Ask yourself, what’s it going to be, risk visiting our dead in cemeteries now, or actually be with our dead in their spirit world in time for next year’s celebration?
My deepest affection of love and thanks to our departed: Mama Pin, Lola Tonying, Lolo Ute, Lola Titang, Ate Pilar, Lola Benita, Lolo Intsik, Tita Nen & Tito Berting, Kuya Bong, Kuya Uding, Adits and Mandy. They may all be mere names to you. The finest parts of me.
HONORING MY MOTHER
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