Thursday, November 03, 2005

It has been a family tradition to camp at the cemetery--Loyola Marikina--during All Saints' Day since dad passed away in 1989. My grandfather died years later, so it's the two of them we visit now. (My great-grandfather was also buried in Loyola, but his remains had recently been exhumed.) We bought a large tent and one of those collapsible plastic table-bench thingies--an ingenious invention--and held vigil with thousands of others throughout all those nights.

There were the jitters during the first year, since staying overnight at the cemetery was inconceivable, but we got used to it. And how could one possibly get jittery with all those people?! In the earlier years since we started the camping tradition, the night's silence had been broken by a small amusement park beside the cemetery, karaoke warbling, guitar strumming, the clacing of mah-jongg tiles, and wandering vendors selling everything from taho to rosaries, while the area outside the cemetery transforms into a little food court. In recent years, the city government has made the whole occasion less excruciating to visitors. One can sense that a real system has been put in place.

We didn't do the all-nighter this year since the tent has aged somewhat and the canvas is now worn and torn. The folding bed needs to be replaced, too. But given a choice, I wish that this tradition won't fade, since this has been the perfect opportunity for the core family to get together and "hang out" for some nice catching-up talk. The kids seem to enjoy it, too, as there are other kids around they can socialize with. Before we packed up for the night, they were all singing and dancing the Pinoy Big Brother theme, and went as far as exchanging numbers.

Yes, their social lives gain an extra boost among the gravestones.

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