In a previous photo gallery I shared with you how I usually celebrate Halloween these days, at a costume party in a club. That was around the 27th of October here on Mactan. However, a few days later is the annual event held here in the Philippines.. a 2-day event known as All Souls Day and All Saints Day from November 1st through the 2nd. I really, really wish we’d adopt this holiday in other countries. It is practiced in Mexico and several other Latin countries and has a whole other emphasis than our American practice of ‘trick-or-treating’.
Here the holiday is more of a 48-hour event. I am lucky enough that there is a very nice cemetery just a mile from where I live and got to see some of it first-hand. I’d already been there a couple times, partly because I like the grassy landscaping and partly because I find cemeteries to be a good place to do some thinking. It puts thing back in proper perspective to be surrounded by that much mortality. It reminds me that there are no days I can afford to ‘waste away’. Any one of those people six feet under would give anything for even one of my crappy days just to feel the sunshine and breathe the air again, taste some food or hear some music. That’s just how I look at it and find that I walk away from the cemetery freshly focused and invigorated.
So when I heard that All Souls Day was coming up, I asked my friend Baby if she’d show me around and explain things. We got on her moto-scooter (now it’s my moto-scooter, I bought it from her) and putt-putted on over there. The cemetery was PACKED. You’d think the Rolling Stones were doing a free concert or something. The cemetery is about 9 acres minimum and it was filled with people. Wait, let me re-phrase that. There were over a 1,000 walking, breathing people there to celebrate the holiday. Everywhere there were canopies, children playing, light-up toys, candles, laughing, joy and FOOD.. so much food! The families did cooking right there and some even brought along tents. Most were going to be there for the full two days. It was like a combination memorial-day and family-reunion all rolled into one!
Baby and I ran into some people she knew and they were all so friendly and welcoming to me. As we strolled around the huge cemetery it became obvious to me that this was no somber event. Everybody was having a really fun time. Good, family-time fun.. no drinking or craziness.. just family celebrating life together and remember those that had passed on. I couldn’t help but repeating to Baby the whole night, “I really wish we’d do this once a year in the States. We have a Memorial Day for those who served in the military. But this is so cool you do such an event for the whole family.” If you’ve ever been to a really good family reunion or 4th of July event.. it’s kinda like that atmosphere. Kids are running around playing and everyone is just having a great time. It was awesome.
And the food! While many people cooked under their canopies, an area was set aside for vendors to sell food, drinks, toys and crafts. Baby and I went where they had roasted pig (Lechon) with Hanging Rice. It was SO delicious. We spent several hours there, checking out all that was going on and getting a few items from the craft vendors. We finally left around one in the morning but everyone there was still going strong and would be spending the night there to continue until the following day.
I have to say, it was a very positive holiday to experience and if you ever plan a vacation that includes the first week of November.. you just absolutely have to attend one of these. They are held at every cemetery in the Philippines. Day or night.. it’s going on November 1st and 2nd. Here are a few photos of the evening to give you an idea of how it went.
— Henry V.
After 49 years living in Southern California, USA, I decided to move to the Philippines despite never having been here before. I spent a year getting all the information I could online and in July, 2012, I took a leap of faith and transplanted myself first to Mactan and then began my trek through Cebu, Bohol, Panglao, Moalboal, Dumaguete, Bacong and now living in Cebu City, here in the amazing Philippines.
Starting in January of 2019, I will begin a slow trek through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and possibly Malaysia, China and Japan. My itinerary is open with no big rush since I hope to share in detail what each place is like as I enjoy it for months at a time.
I am a single man taking an honest look at all that Southeast Asia has to offer, one day at a time. I hope you find my channel informative and/or entertaining. 🙂
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