NEXT to the Christmas-New Year season, Undas – the twin national holidays of November 1 for All Saints’ Day and November 2 for All Souls’ Day – is the second most family-oriented celebration in the Philippines.
During this break from work and school, people usually visit their hometowns and clans come together at the cemetery to pay their respects to their dearly departed.
In recent years, with the growth of more land and air transportation options, it has also become an opportunity to gallivant and play local tourist.
This means that transport hubs and the roads, not just the cemeteries, will be jam-packed. The resulting chaos has, in the past, triggered many a rage ending in serious crime. Opportunistic petty criminals will, expectedly, also be on the loose. Some cemeteries have gone so far as putting up carnival attractions, as if people needed added incentive to go there. Then the whole Undas observance becomes a circus and loses its meaning, which is to remember and honor our dead, reflect on our own mortality, and celebrate life with friends and family.
And lest we forget, particularly the Catholic faithful, the event is also about commemorating the lives of saints, those who have gone beyond their human-ness and set an example of what it means to be virtuous. This year is extra special for Filipino Catholics with the canonization of Pedro Calungsod just last October 21, now the second Filipino saint after San Lorenzo Ruiz.
Undas is not a somber event, but neither is it a fiesta. So let’s keep it the solemn and profound affair that it is.
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P-NOY joked that some government officials enmeshed in corruption cases while in office now use the wheelchair instead of the fast and expensive car to “travel.” His Filipino audience during his recent visit to New Zealand let out guffaws upon hearing that. No names were mentioned, but P-Noy was clearly referring to former President Arroyo. Remember Arroyo’s unsuccessful attempt to flee the country on board a wheelchair at the airport?
The truth is, suspected government-bred scammers love to invoke health reasons to escape grilling, if not outright arrest. For the record, former Agriculture undersecretary Joc-Joc Bolante, the alleged mastermind behind the P800-million fertilizer scam under Arroyo’s watch, was among the first to use the wheelchair on his way to a Senate probe. People laughed. But where is Joc-Joc now?
In his Visayan home by the bay, enjoying the sun, sea and sand.