11.02.2008

All Saints Day - A Tradition That Evolved to Family Reunions


All Saints Day, commemorated every November 1, is an old Filipino tradition, not only by Catholic Christians but by almost every Filipino. It's a national holiday in the Philippines. Filipinos flock the cemetery to visit the memorial grave of their loved ones. If there are relatives that they don't usually see on Christmas, they would probably see them on All Saints Day. More than visiting the departed ones, this tradition has evolved into family reunions - festive but without the glamor of Christmas and expensive venues.

A decade ago, this tradition has become a nasty tradition because the cemetery, instead of being a sacred place, had become a venue for parties, getting high on drugs and alcohol, karaoke, and mahjong, and other types of gambling. Thanks to the church and the government, the Filipinos have become more behaved. Alcoholic beverages, TVs, karaoke, pointed objects and gambling are now prohibited to brought inside the cemetery.

More than visiting a cemetery, some Filipinos have forgotten to pray. For the Catholic Christians, praying for souls is essential. They believe that prayer can save souls from the anguish of purgatory and eventually go to heaven. Non-Catholics question that belief. They argue that nobody has proven that a prayer can save souls. They don't even believe the existence of purgatory or heaven. Unfortunately, on the other hand, they cannot prove otherwise. Therefore, heaven and purgatory remain mysteries. For the Catholic Christians, however, they strongly stand on what the church has taught them.

For those who do not believe in the tradition, you would find them getting drunk inside bars or enjoying the view of beaches. Last year, a Filipina chose to get drunk inside a bar in the upper Luzon. She ended up being allegedly raped by three (four?) US service men. Smith, the youngest of the US soldiers was found guilty an is now in the custody of the US embassy. Had she observed the tradition well, life for her and the soldiers could have been better today. Even the political issue twinned with it could have not existed. It would have been peaceful for all. :)

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