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Un-sad. Un-A.S.D. Undas.
As I got out of the tricycle and saw the cemetery, I half expected a band to play and march on the the streets, with floats following and with confettis flying through the air.
There were food stalls everywhere. Teens were wearing their “gimik” get up. Toy vendors peddling wands with flashing lights, headbands with glowing red devil horns and other toys. People enjoying the assorted food they spent all evening preparing. Children playing and running around.
It was a relatively happy atmosphere. Feastive actually. Maybe that’s why they call it “‘Pista’ ng Patay” (more like Pista ng Buhay).
Maybe they should have a “Pa-liga”. or Barangay Officials night. or have a big Cook-Off that is almost a common activity nowadays for fiestas in a bid to get the World Record. Longest this. Biggest that. And to complete the recipe, a talent search and a Beauty Contest, MISS UNDAS 2010.
Whoever named this Holiday got only half of it right. I did not see a single corpse enjoying the good food. I did not see any corpse enjoying the latest “chika” from someone who he havent heard from for quite some time. I didnt even see any corpse dancing to the latest “K-pop” songs blaring from the sound system (and those songs really make “everyone” wanna sway their hips, fling their hands, bob their heads or at the their least tap your feet). I did not see some little corpses playing with their glow in the dark yoyos or devil horns. Nevertheless, even with the absence of gluttonous, gossiping, dancing and playing corpses, the overall feeling of the day was still joyoush. happy. homo.. err.. gay. merry. Un-sad.
I was carrying 2 flower arrangements that made me look like I am courting someone from the grave. Good thing I left the chocolates at home. I was wearing my “World’s 2nd Greatest Dad” shirt, shorts and slippers. Those are not things to wear if you were to go courting especially the shirt so I was confident no one thought i am wooing a dead lady. Plus, its All Saints Day and I am the only one stupid enough to think about such things upon seeing a guy with flowers on this day.
One side of the gravel road lay the graves and on the other side were the mausoleums. These are those structures that look like houses for the graves. The rich are protected from the elements even after death, while some living people brave those same elements day-in and day-out. I suddenly remembered a saying “Aanhin mo ang Bahay na Bato kung ang nakatira ay Kwago….”. I thought, at least the Owl is still living, and really needs the shelter.
“Aanhin mo ang Bahay na Bato kung ang nakatira ay Bangkay…”
Arriving at the site where my wife’s grandparents were laid (no double meaning here), I laid the flowers on the graves. There were food and drinks. Somebody offered but I politely declined. I ate before we went there. There were those who were playing the Filipino favorite, “Tong-its”. I was tempted to join but I know I am not that good yet to play with the “pros”.
So I just stood there, People-watching.
Young women wearing short shorts were everywhere. With those shorts, they should just have written “Dito ka magtirik ng kandila” in front. Young men looking at those women. There were those who looked like they are about to go to the bar with all the make up and accessories. There were the Emo type, with there black shirt, black fitted pants, black eyeliners and (maybe) black underwears. I would have given them scythes if I had brought some. That would have completed their get up.
There were those who have been eating since we arrived. They were still eating.
There are kids playing and running around playing with melted candle wax. Some are buying popsicles from the Icecream vendor with one of those annoying bakground music that plays over and over and over again.
I went into a corner and lighted a cigarette. Good thing they did not ban cigarettes.
I looked at the scene again. If you happen to see the cemetry at a quick glance, you’d think you were in a park (not memorial). There were no above ground gaves and only epitaphs are signs that there were once living people lying below the ground. Its like a Family day weekend or a really really big birthday party was being celebrated.
After some more puffs (and huffs with no pigs in sight), I went to my wife and sat down. Had a little bit of chit-chat. Play with Melissa. And we were off, to another site. This one’s for the other side of my wife family.
Same thing. I just stood in the corner and watch while eating ‘butong pakwan”. Different site, same activities.
I wonder, are we Filipinos really this happy and addicted to the “fiesta” spirit? Every week there must be a fiesta being held somewhere in the Philippines. We are a nation of “fiestas”. We can make a fiesta out of anything. Bangus, Basi, Kulambo, Maskara, etc. Maybe one day, we will have a fiesta for every item found in the local market.
As the afternoon got later and the earth is beginning to be swallowed by its own shadow, we got ready to leave. As we were about to leave, raindrops began to fall. Darkness is slowly covering the cemetery with the lights just coming from unnatural sources. Candles, glowing wands, lights from the mausoleums. We walked again towards the gates of the cemetery.
It is still drizzling.
Aboard the tricycle, I glanced once more at cemetery. Even in the darkness and the drizzle, the place still radiates happiness and celebration.
As the tricycle moved forward, the tears fell down from heaven and expressed the sadness that we have failed to show for this Un-sad day.