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All Saints Day and All Souls Day Yr 2007
by Ernesto del Castillo
11/03/07
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In the Philippines, "All Saints Day" (Nov 1) & "All Souls Day" (Nov 2) are 2 National Holidays traditionally observed as Family Re-union Days - apart from Christmas. At this time of the year, we see: (1st) a vibrant Domestic Tourism due to the Week-long Holiday; (2nd) congested Public Transport Terminals with people (working far apart) travelling in all directions just to be with Family Relations; (3rd) Cemeteries spruced up as gathering places for Family & for Friends.

Yesterday, my Wife & I went to Loyola Memorial Marikina (LMM) to meet-up with my Brother & Sister (and their respective Families) at the gravesite of my Mother who died Yr2002 at the old age of 84. Travelling from my Marikina House by car towards LMM, Travel Time was close to 2 hours - instead of the usual 30". I was surprised to see heavy Traffic and plenty of People on the road - considering that Nov 2 was already Day-3. True to Filipino Tradition, I pitched Tent at my Mother's Gravesite and slept overnight on Halloween Night (Oct 31st) from Yr2002 to Yr2005. However, as the 4 kms Hiking Distance (with a heavily laden BackPack) has become farther and farther each year, I stopped sleeping overnight at Mother's Gravesite starting Yr2006 - even more so now with my "guarded" Heart Condition. Yesterday, I recalled my own experience of this particular Filipino Family Tradition. In the past years when I spent overnights at LMM, I would tire myself walking around the LMM Grounds exchanging smiles with Strangers - but more so, looking out for familiar faces. And I would marvel at the beautiful sight of what I would call "LMM Candlelight City" - perhaps, a faint preview of Heaven's beauty. When tired walking around, I would return to Mother's Gravesite, and while laying down inside my Tent slowly dosing off to sleep, I would fondly reminesce my Mother's Lessons-of-Life handed down to me and my Siblings.

To me, Family Re-Unions (at their "Dear Departed" gravesites) do tighten Family Bonds not only among the Living - but also, with the Dead.

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