Philippine Culture: November in the Philippines

When we think of November in the Philippines, you will most likely think of All Saints' Day or All Souls' Day or what we call here in the Philippines as Araw ng mga Patay. Araw ng mga Patay literally translates to "Day of the Dead."

"Undas" is another term that you will hear for our November 1-2 activities.

Given that the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, most families will be offering a mass or two for their loved ones who have gone on ahead. Majority will troop to the cemeteries (whether in the cities or in their far-away provinces) to pay their respects. Expect the bus stations and the airports to be jampacked a few days before and after the occasion. October 31 is usually declared a holiday to give people enough time to travel.

While in the cemetery, you may see people praying the rosary. You will definitely see people eating though, conversing animatedly, listening to what may be loud music, and even playing cards or gambling. As we pay our respects to the dead, we also celebrate life. =) Most people may actually look like they are enjoying themselves or having a picnic. They are. =) You are bound to see plenty of flowers and kids making balls out of melted candle wax.

As for the festivals this month, there's the Higantes Festival from November 22-23 at Angono, Rizal -- proud home to our artists like Lucio San Pedro and Botong Francisco, among others. Higante is the Filipino word for giant. The festival showcases giant paper mache figures as they celebrate the feast of San Clemente.

There is also the Grand Cordillera Festival in November in Baguio City. This is a thanksgiving festival in the summer capital of the Philippines which features tribal rituals and various dances.

[By Angelica Viloria | Wednesday, November 30, 2005]

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