In a hidden rainforest in the highland of South Cotabato in Mindanao, lies the picturesque town of Lake Sebu, home of one of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, the people of T’boli.
As far as I can remember Christmas season in the Philippines is the most awaited celebration for young and old alike. It is the most festive, the longest, and the most memorable. The season is an endless series of merrymaking, of Christmas parties in homes, schools, public and private offices. It is also a time for family reunions as Filipinos living abroad usually come home to spend the Christmas holidays in the country.
Growing old is tough. If one is sick, it is even tougher not only for the ill and ageing senior but for the supporting family as well. But respect and care for the elderly is paramount in Philippine culture and a nursing home is not always the solution. Elders are considered key members of the family, a source of wisdom and Filipino values that must be passed on to the next generation.
In the Philippines, All Souls Day is now called "Undás" (don’t know why), "Todos los Santos" (Spanish for "All Saints"), and "Araw ng mga Patay / Yumao" (Tagalog for "Day of the Dead”) which incorporates All Saints Day and All Souls Day. It is celebrated on November 1st. Undas is probably colloquial for Undras which means “to honor” in Spanish.
Smoke from the last firecrackers of New Year’s eve still lingers in the air when preparations for festivals and fiestas in the Philippines start getting underway. In Manila a 9-day novena to the Black Nazarene, enshrined in the Quiapo church in Manila, whose feast day is in early January actually starts on January 1st.
(This is sponsored content by Heritage Gardens Cemetery.)
November 1st or All Saints Day is a Christian holiday to honour all the saints. For Catholics, it’s a holiday of obligation. For Filipinos, it is a holiday to commemorate all their family members and friends who have passed away. It is a red letter day on the calendar which means there is no school or work on this day.