Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Dearly Departed...

The holidays are here again. For us Filipinos, we feel the coming breeze of the holidays after the All Saints’ Day vacation. Too bad the government shortened our holiday, making November 2 a working day, thus, spoiling some of our colleagues’ much-awaited vacations to their home provinces.

The “Undas” vacation is really something we Filipinos look forward to. This is the time when we get to travel back in time, reminisce the memories of our dearly departed, and enjoy the company of our loving relatives in our hometowns.

I remember back in childhood, our mother-side family travels together to Dinalupihan, Bataan to visit our departed Lolo. My lolo passed away in 1975, thus my Lola, along with her children that includes my mom, visits his tomb every year from then on. Us third generation kids got to be tagged along with the tradition.

I would always look forward to this momentous occasion back then. This is because All Saints’ Day is the only time that I get to see all my cousins, aunts and uncles in full force, get to meet and greet all relatives and realize that we’re relatives, get to receive praises and commendations for my height, weight, or achievement in school, get to eat for more than 9 times since every house we visit has its own little fiesta, and of course, get to bond with the family.

We wake up at exactly 4 in the morning to prepare our baon for the trip. After preparation, we then proceed to my Lola’s house in Caloocan because that is the rendezvous point of our Convoy. At exactly 6 a.m., we head for Bataan. At around 8:30 a.m., we go to my lola’s sister’s house, Ate Pening (as my mother calls her), to eat suman, tamales, and other native Bataan kakanin for breakfast. Then, we head to my Lolo’s grave and stay there till dusk.

Though we may be constrained in an area full of dead people in niches, my cousins and I enjoy this one-day delight. This is primarily because this is the only time we get to legally play with fire. We are always assigned to monitor the candles on our relatives’ tombs. Thus, we design some sort of a contest wherein the kid who gets to make the biggest ball made of candle wax wins. That was really fun. Eventually, as we grow older, we got more artistic. We mold figures out of the candle wax. And our aunts and uncles think we’re real geniuses.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to do all these fun stuff with the family anymore. My favorite cousins, along with their parents, moved to the United States in 2000. My Lola, who is the most enthusiastic with our yearly reunion, suffered an aneurismic stroke and died on September 21, 2001. She was laid to rest beside my Lolo’s tomb in Dinalupihan. My other uncle, who is the family’s ultimate joker, also passed away on September 20, 2002. That old happy gathering has drastically changed in just 4 years time. But of course, we still get to visit the tombs of my Lolo, Lola and Uncle every year. But the feeling was never the same.

Times really do change fast in the blink of an eye. And there are things that we do not want to change, but due to the normal course of life, they slip away. And now, everytime the All Saints’ Day vacation comes, I badly miss them all… The activities, my cousins and our candle wax competition, my late Uncle’s funny antics, and most of all, my Lola.

This year, we have no plans of going to Bataan due to fiscal reason. Thus, I have decided to just sit around in our quaint little house and do the reminiscing there. We’ll still be lighting candles for our dearly departed, maybe in our backyard. I shall still be monitoring those candles. And thank God for my brother, I have a new opponent for the candle wax contest.

I just realized… Since there is nothing much to look forward to except for long hours of sleep, shortening of the “Undas” vacation isn’t that unfortunate after all… Well, for me at least.

Okey okey okey... Trivia trivia ulit...

Did you know: The first-ever Most Valuable Player of the Philippine Basketbal Association (PBA) was Crispa Redmanizer Bogs Adornado.

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