Celebrating All Souls Day in the Philippines - a Photo Gallery

Lucila:  My Mother's Mother, May You Rest in Peace
Lucila: My Mother's Mother, May You Rest in Peace | Source


In the Philippines, the Catholics commemorate the souls of our dearly departed on All Souls Day or Araw ng mga Patay which falls on November 2. But majority of the Filipino population would already start going to the cemeteries as early as November 1.

This tradition was started by the Roman Catholic Church around the 10th and 11th centuries and was based on the belief that our prayers on earth may help purify the souls in purgatory. Furthermore, masses and novena prayers are also offered with the intention to help ease any pain or suffering they might be in.

I have a lot of family, relatives and families of friends who are scattered in different cities, towns and buried in different memorial gardens. It would be a challenge to visit them all in one time. But ever since I lived in Cebu City, I have grown to this routine for the past several years during All Souls day/All Saints Day.

Preparing for All Souls Day starts way ahead. My aunties would hire someone to clean the area, repaint the mausoleum and the tombstone. Of course included in the preparation is the buying of flowers, candles, incense, food and so on.

I asked this guy how much was his rate for repainting the engraved words on the tomb, he said "one hundred twenty pesos." And then I asked, if I could take his photo. He said, "sure!" and went back to painting. Several other people flocked around me as I took his photo. One teased him saying, "ah gwapo!" which meant handsome! He didn't even bother to look at us as he was engrossed in his task.

Clean Up and Repainting

Hired to repaint the tombstone, I caught this young man doing his task seriously.  There weren't any family around.  They must have visited earlier or maybe after we have left.
Hired to repaint the tombstone, I caught this young man doing his task seriously. There weren't any family around. They must have visited earlier or maybe after we have left. | Source

On November 1, our first stop was always the Cebu Chinese Cemetery. Sadly this place is no longer what it used to be. It used to be a clean memorial garden bustling with many people. Through the years, due to neglect, a lot of people have transferred to other cemeteries. But if you want to see how the old mausoleums look like, this was the perfect place to visit.


Cebu Chinese Cemetery Philippines

The Entrance
The Entrance | Source
Many of these graves are unattended as time have passed.
Many of these graves are unattended as time have passed. | Source
Some mausoleums have sculptures with Jesus on the cross like this one.
Some mausoleums have sculptures with Jesus on the cross like this one. | Source
This one has an angel watching over the tomb.
This one has an angel watching over the tomb. | Source
One of the famous landmarks in the Cebu Chinese Cemetery.
One of the famous landmarks in the Cebu Chinese Cemetery. | Source
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Flowers

The tombs are usually adorned with flowers. Our mausoleum had a built in vase attached to the wall so all we needed to do was place water and the flowers are readily inserted into it. This was a pretty good idea as we don’t have to carry vases anymore.

The flowers brought life and color to the sombre place. It was a wonderful reminder for those who are still alive to honor the gift of life, to be continually fascinated by beauty. And if we can take the time and spend money to give flowers to the dead, that we may also give to those who are still alive.

Amidst the preparations, I caught sight of a boy wearing sunglasses and bringing a handful of flowers. I just had to capture it in my camera.

Flowers in baskets
Flowers in baskets | Source
Caught in the act! So cute!
Caught in the act! So cute! | Source

Candle Offering

May this light guide you and grant you eternal rest
May this light guide you and grant you eternal rest | Source

Lighted Candles

Lighted candles are also offered to the dead to signify hope, joy and love. And that this love will burn brightly and cross all time and space. Personally, I light the candles with a prayer that the soul of the dearly departed may have found the light and be one with the Divine One, the Source of All That Is.

There are many colors of the candles – red, white and yellow are the most common ones. However, one can see other colors like pink and green in the marketplace. We normally buy the white one for those who have died recently and the red or yellow for those who have passed away for several years.

Lighted Candles

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These 3 poor boys eagerly await to remove the melted candle wax so they could sell it.
These 3 poor boys eagerly await to remove the melted candle wax so they could sell it. | Source

Chinese Traditions

Having a Chinese descent, our Chinese traditions are combined in our celebration of All Souls Day. Aside from the floral offerings, we offer fruits (esp. those that are circular in form like apples, oranges and pears) and other foodstuff. This comes with the belief that the souls too share in the simple feast. Two Chinese sticks or “incense” are lighted for the souls and another offered to God (one stick or three sticks). And then lastly, Chinese money/joss or kim are folded and then burnt as an offering of prosperity for the departed souls.

There are still a lot of Chinese traditions that we do not even follow anymore. But we still offer fruits, food and the money. Whenever we are preparing all these things, I would often jokingly say that when I die, can they just offer me pizza please?

Chinese money offered to the dead

Joss paper or Chinese money
Joss paper or Chinese money

Here is a photo of my grandparent's mausoleum. This is from my mother's side. The parent's of my father is placed in another city. Someday will have to take photos of that too.

You will see on the photos the whole stuff that we prepare, flowers, fruits, drinks, foodstuff, incense, the paper money that is not yet folded. The candles are found on the ground. I am also grateful that the photos of my grandparents are still intact.

My Grandparent's Mausoleum

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Vendors

You will also see vendors selling ice cream, snacks, or drinks/water in the area. This really creates the festive atmosphere. The vendor in the second photo has always set up her table beside our mausoleum since as long as I can remember. It’s silly I know but even in the cemetery it does feel nice seeing someone familiar every time I go there.

Vendors inside the Cemetery

Selling fish balls, squid balls and tempura on a stick
Selling fish balls, squid balls and tempura on a stick | Source
The girl in white shirt with a cap is a vendor that has been there for ages!
The girl in white shirt with a cap is a vendor that has been there for ages! | Source

Most people go to the cemeteries bringing food and drinks. They set up tents, food, tables and chat and laugh all night through. But as lunch drew near, we packed all our stuff and end our half day visit at the Cebu Chinese Cemetery.

After lunch, we proceeded to the Phu Sian Temple.


Phu Sian Temple

Phu-Sian Temple is situated at the right side road of Taoist Temple. It is another Buddhist Temple, the third Chinese Temple on Beverly Hills.
Phu-Sian Temple is situated at the right side road of Taoist Temple. It is another Buddhist Temple, the third Chinese Temple on Beverly Hills.

Our Chinese relatives who wished to be placed in the temple is found here. Their body had been cremated and their ashes placed in the jar. It's a quiet and peaceful place.

My brother remarked, "How different it is here from the Cebu Chinese Cemetery!"

Place of worship to the Gods
Place of worship to the Gods
Incense offering
Incense offering
Lighting the incense for the dead
Lighting the incense for the dead
The gold tablets contain the names of the departed
The gold tablets contain the names of the departed
The room where all the jars are placed
The room where all the jars are placed
The ashes of my aunt's mother
The ashes of my aunt's mother | Source

We do not stay long in the Phu Sian Temple. Our final destination for the day was the Benevola Memorial Garden. This was newly made so there are still a lot of vacant places around. Here lies the body of my cousin who died at the age of thirty.

Benevola Memorial Garden

The white building is where my cousin is buried.
The white building is where my cousin is buried.
An incense offering to the Gods
An incense offering to the Gods
A final look.
A final look. | Source

Life Goes On

The whole day is mostly spent reminiscing about souls and the memories of our loved ones. Yesterday, as I sat in the Benevola Memorial, a pear from the plate suddenly dropped and rolled to me. I laughed out loud and asked my cousin's soul if she wanted me to eat. "You knew I was hungry" I voiced aloud. I returned the pear to its place and thanked her in my heart. I spent a few minutes praying for her.

As day turned into night, we packed our things and leave the other stuff behind. When I glanced back, I see the cross amidst the green wall and the flowers and food and candles. Life goes on for us who are still alive. Today I am reminded of those who have gone before us, their presence in my life, how their life was lived,how they touched me in one way or the other. And it gently beckoned me to live the life I want so one day when it is my turn to depart, I will do so gladly and without regret.

Just remember, if you need to offer food, can you bring pizza please?

BY: MICHELLE SIMTOCO

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Comments 38 comments

dayzeebee profile image

dayzeebee 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

hahaha okay dearie, pizza it is, that is if you go before I do. Great take on how we celebrate All Saint's day. I like your personal notes as it gives more meaning to the photos. Blessings dear sister. Hugs:)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Very interesting hub, Michelle. Thanks for sharing with such awesome photos!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Daisy, yay! Thanks in advance! LOL Funny how things become suddenly clearer when you begin focusing on it. Blessings to you too sis! :)


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Denise, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. :)


AEvans profile image

AEvans 4 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

How nice, you celebrate their life and not there death. Thank you for giving me a tour of a place I would like to go to one day. As for the pizza, I would like to have that too! lololo :D


Ghaelach 4 years ago

Morning Ripplemaker.

We all have our different ways of celebrating these special occations and yours is very interesting. Well written.

Take care.

LOL Ghaelach


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

AEvans, thanks for the insightful comment. :) Okay I will remember about the pizza for you too. LOL


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Ghaelach, thanks! Upon writing it all down, it just dawned on me how much we had to prepare. But we have so much fun! Take care too.


Goonoo Munawwar profile image

Goonoo Munawwar 4 years ago from Triolet, Mauritius

Hi ripplemaker!

This hub of yours is so enriching and I found the photos taken very interesting. Keep it up! I'm gonna save the photos to my computer!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Goonoo, thanks for dropping by! Glad this was also interesting for you! :)


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 4 years ago from New England

Thanks for sharing this lovely hub, Ripplemaker.

I have deceased family all over the place, too, so I cannot make it to all of their places of rest...so I like to remember them with pictures and a place at our table. :0)

Enjoyed learning about customs in the Philippines, and can relate to wanting pizza...:0)

Namaste


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I have always loved visiting cemeteries and truly enjoyed seeing the ones where your family members reside. That is so very interesting that food venders actually provide food in the cemeteries. That certainly livens up the place! This may seem like a silly question to you. What happens to the food offerings? Are they picked up after a while and used or do they rot and have to be thrown away?

Loved your many photos! Thanks for this interesting and educational hub.


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

What a beautiful and educational photo tour ripplemaker. My favorite is the boys gathering the melted wax; how interesting that they would re-sell it. Thanks!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Thanks for sharing such an educational hub. Your photos are beautiful. I wish we had an All Souls Day here. My favorite photo is "Place of worship to the Gods".


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

The photos are fabulous and the hub beautiful and interesting, thank you for sharing I really enjoyed reading.


PWalker281 4 years ago

You have captured the heart and soul of All Saints Day as it is celebrated in the Philippines with your words and photos.

There is a large Asian population here in Hawaii, and I always wondered why the locals would spread picnic blankets next to the graves of departed loved ones and spend several hours there on special occasions like Easter, Christmas, New Years, and Memorial Day. Perhaps this practice is similar to how the Philippines celebrate All Souls Day. I've never seen anything like it on the US mainland (although that doesn't mean it doesn't happen).

Rated up and awesome!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Ripplemaker, thank you for sharing this hub and extensive photo collection with us about All Souls Day. I am not that familiar with it really, and so there is much to learn! I was recently looking and wondering also about the Day of the Dead that passed recently. I think its wonderful to learn about other cultures and their beliefs and how they experience and celebrate life and death. Great hub!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines

We do make All Souls Day a day to remember here in the Philippines. Sometimes, it's the only time of the year when relatives get to see each other.

Thanks for sharing this Michele! I'm sure you will get your pizza one day! Hahaha!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

I missed cemetery highlights this year. I didn't went home to Bicol for the celebration.

A Filipino feeling of togetherness and closely-knit family relationship still emanate during All Souls Day.

I'm glad you've shared it here on HP.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Seafarer Mama: We are the same then. :) I also just spend time to pray for the souls in whatever cemetery I am in. One other way is to offer masses in the church. As to pizza, my brother who would hear me declare that I would want pizza would tease me that he would really put so many apples (he knows it's not really my favorite) LOL.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Peggy: It's not a silly question at all. :) After we are done, we bring the food home. And in the afternoon since we have to go to another cemetery, we bring another set of offering. Yes, food that has been offered cannot be offered again. Thanks for the visit Peggy. There are other prettier cemeteries but the Cebu Chinese Cemetery is one of the oldest ones. :)


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Green Lotus: In unattended cemeteries like the Cebu Chinese cemetery, a lot of poor folks have made homes on the side so there are a lot of them wandering around. When they would see families lighting up the candles, they would immediately approach you and ask if they could be the one to get the melted wax and sell it. In other cemeteries, this is forbidden and I believe safer too.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Just Ask Susan: The place of worship for the Gods is the Buddhist temple. It is a beautiful place indeed. Quiet and calm too. You know I didn't realize that other cultures do not celebrate All Souls Day...hmmmmm...I guess it's more of the Halloween. Interesting!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Movie Master: Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed this hub as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

PWalker: Yes, they do it here too. People would put up tents and food and drinks are prepared. This is also shared to guests who might drop by to pray. :) Thanks much for reading this hub.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

oceansnsunsets: It is a joy sharing these things with each other. Thanks for being here.

jillofalltrades: Yes this is one occasion we do get together. LOL To pizza when I am alive and even unto death....hahahhahah

travel-man: ah so you are from Bicol...I know what you mean and you are right about the togetherness.

Blessings to all of you and to all of your family and friends who have gone before us, may eternal light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I think it is wonderful how you honor the dead and make it a fun day of memories for the living as well. Thanks for answering my question about the food offerings. As to the cemetery being old...it is not only beautiful but has character as well.


femmeflashpoint 4 years ago

Ripplemaker,

This is a beautiful piece of work. The photos and the commentary lended such a wonderful glimpse into your family's culture and how they honor their dead.

I especially loved that you shared the photo of the little boys recovering the wax to sell. It broke my heart to see little ones doing such a thing to make money, and yet I marvelled at them for their ingenuity and determination.

I also loved that you shared the moment that the fruit offering left for your cousin rolled off the plate toward you. :)

The last photo in the article was perfectly placed, and tied the whole thing together with a message of remembrance, peace and hope.

Well done. :)


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Ripplemaker,

I had never given any thought about how different a cemetery in the Philippians would be different than here in the US. I love how the families honor those who have passed with the offerings and such. The photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing this stuff which is so personal to you. Best wishes to you :)


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Very interesting hub about a culture that is so foreign to me but you told us about it in such a beautiful, meaningful way. The care and respect that your family shows to their ancesters is wonderful. And the photos were also great.

Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Peggy: Character...yes it does have that :) Thanks for coming back to read the answer to your question!

femme: We are kindred souls indeed for those things mattered to me too. Love and light to you and many thanks for your presence on this hub. :)


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Jamie: It's really interesting to learn the different ways people do things. Thank you for pointing this out. It made me really glad I decided to share our customs during All Souls Day or Day of the Dead. :)

Happyboomernurse: Wow, thank you for voting it up. I'm smiling! My ancestors must be too. :)


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Hi thank yu so much fo sharing this very intereseting and beautiful hub.

I vote all the way up.

Take care and here's to many more to share.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Eiddwen.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada

Such beautiful photos - thanks for sharing this wonderful celebration with us in such a meaningful way.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Eiddwen, thanks so much for coming here and celebrating with me our dearly departed ones. Blessings to you always. :)

RedElf, recognizing the meaning in the rituals that we do really puts a different perspective to it. Thanks for dropping by. Love and light to you ... :)


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Thanks for reporting this event and share with us. I really enjoy all the pictures above. I found another great culture from other country. Well done and rated up!

Prasetio


MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 4 years ago from NSW, Australia

thanks for sharing these pictures, i have never been home during this time of the year, now my sister looks our family musoleums. When I was young, my sisters and I have a job of cleaning the tombs before all saints day and on the day we stay in the cemetery the whole day, collecting droplets of candles and making sure that no one gets our candles.


Go 4 years ago

Hi Ripplemaker, did you graduated at samanthabadra? ching ming day is fast approaching, a day where we spend our time with our love ones and for me we will be heading in Benevola.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks Prasetio and MM for dropping by to comment. :)

GO: I see glad to know that. :)

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