Thursday, November 6, 2008

*110. MOURNING MORTALITY, Kapampangan Style

LAST LOOK. A prominent Kapampangan is laid to rest in Guagua amidst grieving relatives and loved ones. Black was the traditional mourning color, and a black streamer was placed in the front of a house to signify death in the family. Children were carried across the coffin to prevent the dead from haunting them. Dated 1938.

All Saints’ Day (Todos Los Santos on Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2) used to be 2 distinct observances until somehow, they merged as one. When campo santos (cemeteries) began being built outside of the town, folks found it convenient to divide their pious duties: Nov. 1 was devoted to grave visits while Nov. 2 was reserved for church rites.

Death came early for Filipinos in the 19th century; life expectancy was just about 35 years. Life, was indeed precious, which was why, death was considered major rite of passage, with ceremonies and post-mortem practices created around the inevitable.

· A funeral has to take place within 244 hours of a person’s death.
· As soon as a person dies, his body is bathed, dressed and laid on a bed decorated with black

(if dead is an adult) or white (if a child) hangings.
· Friends and relatives prepare gown for burial, including the wreaths. The immediate family does not participate.
· Young men and women watch over the dead at night, entertaining themselves with card games and bugtungan or bulaklakan.
· Burial is escorted by a band, but not always.
· After the burial, praying continues during the 3rd (atluan), 9th (siaman) and 1st year anniversary (lukasan).
· A person who is fond of wearing perfume will decay faster in the grave.

· Pieces of red cloth hung around the house will ward off the spirit of the dead.
· Mirrors should be covered, lest the spirit of the dead reappears.
· A rosary held in the hand of the departed should be broken, to symbolize the breaking of the circle of life.
· The souls of children who die before they are baptized will drift in the skies forever.
· The soul of a dead wife will appear on the wedding night of the widowers’s next marriage.
· On the 3rd day after the burial, a seat is reserved at the dining table in which ash covered with caracaricucha leaves is served. On the 9th evening after burial, instead of ash, relatives must now put food on the plate of the deceased and pray for the repose of his soul.
· A person who is fond of wearing perfume will decay faster in the grave.
· The bed of someone who has died should be taken out of the house, through the window, to discourage the souls from coming back.

· A dream in which one loses a tooth.
· Howling of a dog in the vicinity of a sick person.
· A crowing hen at night. To prevent death, the hen must be killed.
· Appearance of a black moth
· Hooting owls means the death of a pregnant woman.
· Newlyweds should pass the threshold at the same time; otherwise, the one who comes in ahead will die.
· Children singing in the street pre-figures a funeral procession.
· Putting 3 lamps on the dining table.
· Mound of earth growing under the house.
· Taking a bath during the eclipse.
· A coffin with room to spare.


Leny said...

Alex - what a great blog! I have yet to read through all your posts esp about the Masons (my dad was one). i agree with you - we all need to come home at one time or another.
leny strobel

alex r. castro said...

Many thanks for dropping by, Leny!