Every year, people trek to the memorial parks and cemeteries to pay their respects to their beloved dead. There are at least two days declared as holidays to allow people to go to the provinces or to the cemeteries. Nov. 01 is the real holiday as “All Saints’ Day”, but the government gives at least an extra day allowance for the trip which is an exhausting experience. If you are commuting, it is so crowded at the bus stations, airport or pier and one has to come very early to be able to get tickets. If you are driving, surely you will experience horrible traffic on the road to your destination. If the holiday falls on a Monday or Tuesday, then there will be a bonus of a long weekend. This year, the holiday falls on a Wednesday and the day before that was also declared a holiday.
To avoid the crowd and the traffic, we went to visit our parent’s graves yesterday, which is still 4 days away from the holiday. And yet, there was already bad traffic about 3 kilometers away from the memorial park and there was already a manageable crowd inside. Probably, they were trying to avoid the traffic on Nov 01, too. On our way home we experience traffic 2 kilometers away from home.
In the Philippines, visiting the grave is also an excuse to have a family reunion. Families bring food potluck style and have a feast near the graves. We are so clannish, we will brave the traffic and all to see our relatives again who we have not seen for a long time. In my case, my siblings with their families and myself cannot hold a family reunion every “All Saints’ Day” as we cannot agree on a single date for our visits. I usually prefer the day before to avoid the traffic. My youngest sister insists on the day itself, and my brothers prefer either the day or Sunday after. My other sister lives so far away, about 15 hours drive from my place. Yesterday, I was able to meet up with my brother and nephew after having not seen them for so many months.