All Soul’s Day in the Philippines
By N Mark Castro
This enduring tradition is popularly called “Todos Los Santos” or “Undas,” a day of remembrance for most Filipinos, imbued with age-old practices and customs. Families attend Masses, offer prayers, and spend time in memorial parks. It is an occasion to foster close relations, to reunite with long-lost relatives and friends. It is the time to recall the good deeds and legacies of a loved one.
On the eve of All Saints Day, families in some provinces observe “Pangangaluwa,” that go from house to house, a practice that is believed to bring peace to a departed loved one. In Manila, tradition has it that people light up candles at the porch or balcony as souls pass by.
It is said that the feast originated from the ancient tradition of honoring the martyrs of Christianity. As the number of martyrs grew, the church instituted a common commemoration of their faith. The common feast was placed during the Easter Season to emphasize the belief that the martyrs share in the glory of the Resurrection of Christ. Pope Gregory III later moved the feast to November 1, when he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and instituted an annual celebration.
I’m lighting up a candle from Indonesia, the world’s largest Moslem population, but when it comes to our dearly departed, it crosses boundaries, barriers, religion, race, and gender.