Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cebu Philippines: Funeral Traditions in the Philippines and E Burol

l-r: Monina Blanco, Cecilia Brainard, Chinggay Utzurrum, Terry Manguerra, Tina Agustines, Chona Bernad, Cecilia Picornell, Jaime Picornell, Marilu Chiongbian

THE LAST novena prayer for Inday Blanco was said on Thursday, and following tradition, family and friends gathered to eat and celebrate.

I thought I would talk a bit about the funeral practices in the Philippines because it is very eleborate and ritualistic. 

Following the death of someone, there is usually a wake of three days to a week. Before cremation was available, the dead was displayed in a coffin for family and the community to view. Family and friends gather in the mortuary or church chapel where the wake is held and they talk, eat, sing, in some cases gamble (as fund raising for the lower-income). 

I know years ago that the custom (at least with regard to my brother who passed away) was that the body was always accompanied by someone after death, and thus the wakes were round the clock. I don't know if this is still so.

Traditionally, people who attend the wake do not go home directly; they stop somewhere else "to lose any spirit following them."

After the wake there is the funeral: There is a funeral Mass, after which the coffin is placed in a hearse, and people follow this by car or on foot to the cemetery for the burial.

The Novena Prayers for the Dead are said after the funeral. For nine days, friends and family gather to say the novena, after which there is a celebratory meal.  

On the fortieth day after death, there is a big celebration because the belief is that the dead has gone on to heaven.

Family members traditionally wear black for a year, after which time they ease on to black-and-white or somber colors like brown or blue. I think this tradition is no longer observed as strictly as it had been.

My friend, Lyn Ocampo, told me of a new funeral practice, the E burol, which has to do with the wake. To allow friends and relatives who are away to participate in the mourning, the funeral parlor (at St. Peter in Cebu) has set up video cameras, and people can go online to view the coffin and mourners in the room. 

The E burol (burol means wake) is probably a good idea since there are many Filipinos abroad who still want to participate in the tradition of mourning their dead.

These pictures were taken at Inday Blanco's last day of novena prayers. It shows her family and close friends.

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Tags: Philippines, Cebu, Filipino, funeral, tradition, practices, burial, Sugbo

This is all for now

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