By Ruben B. Cal
MANILA, (PNA) -– All Saints Day is observed on Nov. 1 followed by All Souls Day on Nov. 2 but Filipinos start honoring the dead “Araw ng mga Patay” on the first day of November, visiting cemeteries to pray and offer Masses for their departed loved ones.
The Philippines, one of the only two Catholic nations in Asia, the other is East Timor, observes the Day of the Dead for two successive days, filling up cemeteries all over the country to the brim.
Traffic is extremely heavy in all roads leading to the cemeteries with people bringing their vehicles.
Many opt to walk because it is faster than taking a ride because of the traffic snarls.
Since time immemorial, people from various faith and races pray for their departed loved ones.
According to the ministry of Cemeterians, the living “prays for the dead because the latter are unable to pray for themselves any longer.”
In fact, it urges those who are alive to go “to the graveside and pray for their deceased loved ones, so that the suffering souls may receive special graces and indulgences.”
“An indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally for the departed. The indulgence is plenary each day from the 1st to the 8th of November; on other days of the year it is partial,” says the Enchiridion of Indulgences, the norms of indulgences issued by the Vatican.
“The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead. Let us help and commemorate them,” it added, citing a passage of the Bible that says “If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” as contained in another document dubbed as Catechism of the Catholic Church #1032.
“An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to further says.
To quote Catechism of the Catholic Church #1471, it says “that Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead.”
The ministry of Cemeterian was established to encourage people to visit graves of their deparetd loved ones and pray for their release from purgatory.
“They know when we go to their grave. If your loved one has already been purified and gone to Heaven, our Heavenly Father gives our prayers to another languishing soul,” it says.
On the other hand, Filipinos have other gimmicks in the celebration of Halloween by dressing themselves as human skeletons or look like “aswang” or worse a “demon” which many religious people frown, instead of prayer devotion which is the proper way of observing All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
It is also during this two-day celebration that small time enterprising Filipinos cash in, setting up eateries right inside cemeteries to sell food and merienda.
It has become a lucrative business every Nov. 1 and 2 that well-known food chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Kenny Rogers, Shakey’s Pizza and Papa John’s Pizza have also put up temporary extension of their business for this annual two-day holiday celebration.
Not to be outdone, flower vendors abound on the side streets going to cemeteries.