On regular days, the typical Filipino cemetery can be a haunting and silent place, but once a year there is an event that breathes life back into these quiet places. All Souls’ Day is an annual observance when families and friends prepare trips throughout the day to visit, clean and stay beside the graves of loved ones who have passed as a way of respecting and remembering them. Aside from the usual flowers and prayers, most visitors bring chairs, canopies and even portable tables with food as well.
It’s more than just a regular visit, though. It’s also a time to appreciate the people who came before us and to celebrate their lives. It’s also a solemn reminder that with life there is death and that those who pass will always be in the loved ones’ hearts. For some, it is also a day to fervently pray for those who might still be in purgatory, to send their spirits closer to eternal paradise.
It’s especially easier for people with family graves, often found collected in a mausoleum, to stay during the night. For some families, these mausoleums will even have their own bathrooms and seats, all built with these annual visits in mind.
In the evenings, when families visit most in order to avoid the hot flare of the sun, the multiple candles light the surrounding graves in a beautiful light. Sometimes, laughter can be heard as cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents talk and dine together, connecting with one another. In a sense, it’s those who have passed away who bring all the living together and bring them closer to one another. It’s almost like a small family reunion, where members reminisce and build up their bonds, which is already quite strong in our culture.
Even with them gone, the locals still honor and pray for their loved ones who are no longer in the mortal world. Family has always been important to the Filipino people, whether living or dead.