Monday, November 01, 2004

We just came back from Malolos, Bulacan after visit my aunt, uncle, and our dead grandparents the cemetery. Traffic in the metropolis have been greatly reduced with most of the folks taking advantage of the long weekend by driving off to the provinces (or maybe staying home for a change) without bothering with the Halloween celebrations last night. What my mom projected to be an hour and half drive up north due to traffic was divided in half so we had enough time to buy some pasalubong in Sta. Isabel (one of the historical districts in Malolos). Since we didn't have time to eat a proper breakfast at home we all had our scrumptuous brunch in my aunt's house while giving personal updates and varied news about different relatives and friends. And since we also had a few hours to kill before going to the cemetery, the others lounged around and continued with their discussions while I went outside the small yard to take pictures. Every now and then some relatives would arrive, rest, and join in on the discussions. Although these other relatives are also based in Manila we only get to see each other during these holiday visits to Malolos, which is quite amusing actually.

Afterwards when we all have gotten our fill of lunch and stories, we got the flowers and candles ready for our early visit to the cemetery. While we usually visited the tombs around 3 or 4 pm when I was still a kid then afterwards we would come back and eat our merienda of homemade cheese ice cream, suman latik, and coffee (or Coke, for us kids), these days we end up going to the cemetery right around after lunch so we could attend to business quickly and avoid the traffic on the way home. So we said our goodbyes to my aunt and headed straight to the town's outskirts to look for available parking space. There are a lot of barangay tanod (official and volunteer peacekeepers) stationed at the entrance of the place along with tricycle drivers waiting for passengers, vendors hawking food and candles, and kids running around gathering candle drippings, throw into the mix lots of families and groups of friends going to and from the cemetery and you'd get the picture how chaotic that could be. But it's been that way ever since I can remember so it wasn't that big a deal for us. Here are some of the pictures I shot earlier:

Close-up of the flowers brought my aunt

My great-grandmother on my Lolo's side

My great-grandmother on my Lola's side

My Lolo and Lola sharing a common tomb

Newcomers lighting candles

Collecting candle wax

Relighting the blown out wick

Expecting a great view from above

This would have turned out great if I remembered to clean up the lens first.

Here are some things I observed around the place that's of interest to me: first of all, the cemetery is situated on a piece of land almost surrounded by bangus fish ponds and the way there is through a rehabilitated pathway that divides the fishponds (I say rehabilitated because it's been widened and cemented to accomodate the increasing number of people visiting the place); second, because of the way vendors have invaded the area making a place that's supposed to be traditionally sacred into something profane (but making a fiesta out of any gathering is an inherent trait of the Filipino anyway); thirdly, the way people have brought pictures of their dead loved ones this year is something new to me. Usually people would just sit around, guard the candles from being blown out, meet long lost friends and relatives, and to some extent, talk about the dead. This last part is fairly uncommon in my experience. We asked about our lolo and our great-grandparents whom we haven't met and how they met their demise or how our great-grandfathers' graves have not been found (which makes for very interesting stories) but that's about it then afterwards we'd go around looking for dragonflies to catch. But we don't bring their pictures so that we could connect the faces with the names on the graves. I'm also sure that these graves where the families have brought their dead relatives' pictures are fairly old so it was rather unusual, although somewhat good in a way, that the older relatives are connecting the names on the graves with the faces so the next generation could probably connect with their ancestors. Fourth and last observation is the grave of a communist rebel (New People's Army member) near my dead relatives' grave. I'm sure nobody famous is buried there but t's become sort of an attraction because of its covered area it's one of the biggest single grave in the entire cemetery, many of his comrades visit and sit around (they used to sing songs too), and because of the communist flag they used to display over the grave. There are a lot of interesting stories around but I'll have to end it here and reserve that for another day.

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