Camping at the Cemetery

When my grandmother died in 1993, we celebrate All Soul's Day camping at the cemetery. Either we go to the cemetery on the 31st of October or the 1st of November depending on the Holiday announcement of the government.  In the United States, children go Trick or Treating and adults have Halloween Parties. These were not common practices here in the Philippines 15 years ago. Although a few years back, malls and private communities started having Trick or Treat activities and costume parties.

When I told my boss from Arlington, Virginia a few years back that I'll be camping overnight at the cemetery, he was so amused. He even asked me to send him a photo because he have not heard or seen anything like that.

Camping overnight at the cemetery is popular here in the metro especially at the private cemeteries where one family owns two to four memorial lots. I asked some friends from the province, the usual practice is they bring flowers and candles, stay a few hours at the cemetery to pray for the departed loved ones, eat a meal (picnic style) with family and relatives then go home.

Here at Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina where famous celebrities like Nida Blanca and Francis Magalona were buried, you'll see tents of all shapes and sizes. Some families hire catering services for their food. Some bring sofa set, hot and cold water dispenser and generator set. If you don't want to bring food, there's a KFC, Max's, Shakey's, Chowking and Yellow Cab. Lot's of kebab food carts, barbecue, sodas and even soft ice cream.

I love that All Saint's/Soul's Day celebration here at Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina has a festive mood. I love seeing families reunited. I love that even though our loved ones are no longer with us, we continue to celebrate their life by recounting happy memories we shared with them.

"You can't see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those sense weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with itLife has to end," she said. "Love doesn't.” 

-Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven