Remembering the dead is a celebration of life

By Janice M. Cave

MANILA, (PNA) — A visit to the tomb of a loved one, whether it is All Saints’ Day or All Soul’s Day, has been a practice Filipinos observe all year round.

Joyce Gonzales, marketing manager of Loyola-Makati, said cemeteries are no longer just a place for burying the dead. She said these have also become places to celebrate a loved one’s birthday or anniversary.

“It’s already a part of our culture to go there and celebrate during birthdays of our dead relatives. Cemeteries are now a place for celebrations and reunions,” Gonzales said in Filipino.

“Mang Nepo”, a grave digger (sepulturero) at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City, said catering services or families going on picnics inside the cemetery grounds have become a common sight.

He said prior to these occasions, he would be asked to clean the tomb and reserve tents and chairs.

For Kaye Riano, a mother of three, a visit to a dead relative is a reminder that we have to live a meaningful life.

“We visit them not just because we want to remember them but also because we want to be reminded that there is only one life. We must make the most out of it and make it meaningful. Life without a purpose is as equal to a dead person,” she said.

Dennis Malabed, an overseas Filipino worker, said he makes it a point to visit the tomb of his parents whenever he goes on vacation.

“Sa kulturang Pinoy na malapit ang bawa’t isa sa kani-kanilang pamilya, hanggang kamatayan ay hindi natin pinuputol ang pagiging malapit natin sa isa’t isa kaya ating ginugunita ang Undas (Close family ties is embedded in our culture that is why we always remember our departed loved ones during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day),” he said.

Rossini Herrera, whose father died of cancer three years ago, said she goes to the cemetery every week to visit her dad’s tomb at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City.

“It was a promise I made to my father. It was one of his wishes, he wanted us to visit him often,” she said.

For his part, JP Abcede said they try to visit as much as they can to pay respects during his late father’s birthday or his parents’ wedding anniversary.

He said they also visit their late grandparents and other relatives who are also entombed in the area.

“We pray for them as well,” he said.

The cost of dying does not come cheap. But some memorial services companies offer burial and funeral services where one could pay on a staggered basis including memorial service plans.

Corazon Aplacador, a sales agent for Loyola Gardens of Antipolo, said many of her clients buy memorial lots either in preparation for the inevitable or as an investment.

In the newly developed Loyola Antipolo, she said the cheapest memorial lot costs P25,000 and could go as high as P32,000 depending on the location within the cemetery grounds.

In Loyola Marikina, she said the cheapest memorial lots cost P70,000 to P80,000.

Nowadays, she said people are more practical and buy cemetery lots even if family members are still in good health.

She added families are often caught in a situation when they have to look for funeral services and memorial lots when a loved one suddenly dies.

“It is quite hard to be caught in such situation. We must be ready at any time,” she said.