Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Feasts and the Filipinos

You want to know what a real feast is? Leave it to the Filipinos, they know how to make a "Fiesta" out of anything, even the much heralded 1986 People Power Revolution. Now, that was a 4 day street fiesta with tons of excitement, free food, singing, dancing, speeches, laughter, tears, prayers, all rolled into one - like any Fiesta in any part of the country. The mere mention of feast or fiesta sends the Filipinos into a frenzy.

Thus, when the Catholic Church years ago urged the celebration of the Feast of All Saints Day and All souls Day, the Filipinos started to Rock! What was meant as a day for lesser known saints and another day for their dearly departed was rolled into a 2-day holiday, extending to 4 days-due to those having to travel to the provinces and back.

In time, the celebrations needed one week to prepare the tombs, together with time for shopping. And what were being purchased aside from flowers and candles? Let me tell you: items like tents, extension cords, food (pre-cooked and freshly cooked) drinks, beer, TV sets, karaoke, cards, guitars, and heaven knows what else.

The feast became a social event for reunions and revelry, with the whole family and clan trooping to the cemeteries to share their packed food and entertainment items with friends, relatives, and even business associates. It also became a venue for extended corporate meetings, as well as a venue to meet new friends or textmates for the younger set. Thus, even the kids had to have a fashion statement going to visit the dead, for chrissakes.

There's singing, dancing, drinking, gambling, laughter, even fake priests walking from grave to grave to bless the dead, for a small donation. There was a time even ferris wheels and caterpillar rides were within cemetery grounds. All sorts of booths adorn the premises such as those selling chicken, hamburgers, coffee, noodles, and whatever. This goes on for four days and three nights non-stop. Even if the soul of the dearly departed were present, it would be dead tired!

Hah, credit the Filipinos for knowing how to deal with adversity and hardship - by having a feast to thank whichever saint was named for the designated day, for still breathing and being alive. That's why I always compared the attitude and disposition of the Filipinos (who eat 6 times a day) to the Hobbits of Tolkien.

Believe me, its a great race of human beings. I know because I am a Filipino too!

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