Friday, November 02, 2007
All Saints Day
All Saints Day is a holiday I never celebrated in the states....in fact I had never heard of it. Here, All Saints Day is celebrated by going to the cemetery and spending the day with your deceased relatives. All the family is there with food and drinks (non-alcoholic...ours were hot chocolate and coke). Some people leave out food and drink for their dead relatives whereas we do not.
We spent the holiday at Manila North Cemetery which is a HUGE cemetary (over 50 hectares). Although I have no idea the actual number of people who go there on Nov 1, it has to be in the hundreds of thousands.
I remember the first year I went, I was picturing us all sitting around a grave stone. Nope. Here there are gigantic tombs. Above is the picture of the second floor of ours. The first floor (which I bizarrely did not take a photo of) has the tombs (as well as restroom and small kitchen) and the second floor is where everyone can gather.
On the days around All Saints Day, no cars are allowed in the cemetery and the road in front of the cemetery is closed. Luckily our tomb is not too far from the entrance (maybe a walk equivalent to five or six blocks) so it makes it an easy trek. There are so many people! You are walking like sardines squished against one another. Even with the masses, it was very well organized. A quick walk through the security and you are headed out with a divider set up in the road to keep the pedestrian traffic all headed the same way on each side.
After lunch we took a walk around the cemetery to visit a couple of friends and see some of the famous grave sites. There are some AWESOME tombs here. We stopped by a family friend's tomb and she had not only a generator for fans and lights (we had no generator this year because somebody stole all the wires from the tomb) but a waterfall and two armed security guards outside as well. In addition, she had someone spraying the flowers outside so they would not wilt too quickly. A pretty cool tomb.
It is a very interesting holiday and I enjoy it each year.