Lighting Up the Candles

Last week was a busy one for me.  It’s Halloween (Undas) and we Filipinos have a different way of celebrating it.  Undas is a time for us to remember our departed loved ones.  Before the actual day, people spend time cleaning the tombs and repainting it or their mausoleum if they have one.  And then on the day itself, you go to the cemetery with flowers, candles, and food.  The flowers and the candles are to be offered to the dead with prayers of course.  The food, well, that’s for you and whoever will drop by to offer candles (like relatives and friends).  And one should be prepared, because, for some reason, Undas becomes an instant family reunion to a lot of people. :)

The activity starts as early as 6 in the morning, I think even earlier!  It’s a whole day thing actually, haha!  People usually stay in the cemetery even until lunch or dinner time.  That’s why you would often see them with their picnic baskets, some would even set up tents.  Of course, that’s not always the case.  There are those who would simply visit, light up a candle, offer a prayer (I hope they don’t forget to do that), and then leave afterward.

Undas this year falls on a Thursday, so Wednesday morning we went to Dangwa – it’s sort of a flea market but all you could find are flowers, flowers, and even more flowers!  Last year, we went for plain white long orchids.  I did the flower arrangement myself, hehe!  But this year, we decided we’ll try those that are pre-arranged already.  You don’t have to order it beforehand, you simply go there and choose from among their displays which arrangement you want.  So, after less than an hour we managed to choose three different flower arrangements!  If not because of the traffic, we could have gotten home a lot earlier.  Anyways, that afternoon we went grocery shopping to buy snacks (chips, drinks, and sandwiches) to bring at the cemetery the following day.  I also designated myself (not that there are any volunteers) to be the one to make the chicken sandwiches, no baked mac what-so-ever! I haven’t had a decent sleep in the past few days and I’m definitely not in the mood to cook baked mac! Keeping it simple is a great idea for me!

Children do enjoy Undas!  They knew Undas would mean, they’ll go to the cemetery, feast on street foods, and collect candle drippings!!!  Yup, I think it has become a rite of passage, every kid I knew at some point have experienced collecting candle drippings during Undas.  Some kids would do it just for fun, while others are actually after the money.  You see, there are peddlers who would buy these candle drippings for a certain price.  I heard it’s selling for 14-peso per kilo (not so sure though).  Before you feel bad for these kids, think of it as their idea of friendly competition, if he sells more it means he got more candle drippings than you are.  Actually, in my nephews and nieces case, they just want to collect it really.  They always end up just giving it to some random kids before we go home in the afternoon.  I can’t explain why they enjoy sitting around the lighted candles, waiting for it to melt (if you can call it waiting because most of the time they are actually ‘forcing’ it to drip faster), staring at it, and then collecting the melted candles in their cups…I once did enjoy doing that myself, haha!

For some kids, they also celebrate Halloween in a more Westernized way.  You can also see children trick-or-treating in some areas, usually high-end subdivisions or sometimes even in malls.  They’re all dressed up in really cute outfits, complete with make-up of course.  Don’t be surprised if the mom or the Yaya (nanny) accompanying the kid is also in costume!  Anyways, typical Filipino kids have a different idea of what Halloween is, for them, it’s simply Undas.  And by typical, probably, 90 percent of the kid’s population.  Alright, I’m probably not the person to go to when it comes to statistics.  My only point is, the majority of the children are still not into ‘trick or treating’, one –  costumes are not exactly cheap and two – ahm..your neighbors would probably not know what to make of you when you go knocking on their doors, haha! (BUT, it’s a different story come December and you go from house to house belting your lungs out with Christmas carols!).



Amang Terio – who always naps in the kubo (nipa hut) that turns into our playhouse if we’re patient enough to wait till he wakes up

Inang Rosalia – who thought us how to cook even if we’re not the most willing students

Inang Belen – who I shared stories to and listened to stories from

Amang Pio – who always growls at people except for us grandchildren

Maggie – who will always be our baby, and will always be our angel


3 thoughts on “Lighting Up the Candles

  1. Aian,
    Thanks for sharing the traditions of your land with us. I like to learn about the celebrations and traditions of other countries. Wonderful pics too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s