Undas (also known as Todos los Santos, Araw ng mga Patay, or All Saints' Day) is a holiday honoring the dead, widely celebrated in the Philippines. Filipino families traditionally visit cemeteries on November 1 or 2, to hold gatherings around the graves of their departed loved ones and lay out flowers and candles. Often the occasion is treated as a reunion or banquet, with families bringing food and drink and camping out all day or even overnight. It is an official, state-recognized holiday, so people get leave from school or work on these days.
Some families visit the cemetery several days in advance to clean up the grave site and repaint the tombstones, so that the graves look more presentable on the day itself. They also offer masses in memory of the faithful departed.
Pangangaluluwa is a practice usually seen in the provinces, where a group of people stop by different houses on the night of All Saints' Day, singing and asking for alms and prayers. They are said to represent the souls stuck in purgatory, asking for prayers from the living to help them get to heaven.
Pag-aatang or Atang is an Ilocano belief and practice -- a food offering for the departed soul to show respect, affection and remembrance for the loved ones who passed away.
With everyone flocking to the cemetery at the same time, there is usually heavy traffic on the surrounding roads, particularly in Manila. Finding a parking space is extremely difficult. Cemetery visitors often find it easier to just walk to their family plot.
In Manila, city mayors often organize "Project Undas" in anticipation of the holiday. This includes driving out squatters who erect makeshift houses inside public burial sites, chasing down drug addicts who hide in empty tombs, and organizing traffic routes to ease the anticipated traffic jam.
Two or three days before All Saints' Day, sellers of flowers or candles sometimes jack up their prices by as much as 500 percent. People swarm to different flower markets such as the Dangwa Flower Market to buy made to order or ready-made flower arrangements to be offered for their departed loved ones.
The holiday is often linked with the spooky American-inspired celebration of Halloween on October 31st. TV programs such as news or expose shows often have special episodes themed around ghosts and hauntings.
- Wow Paradise Philippines. (accessed on October 28, 2008).
- Rolando Tolentino blogspot. (accessed on October 28, 2008).
- Balita Pinoy. (accessed on October 28, 2008).