By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
What a long and grumpy day this must be for the dead. Before, when the living offered no more than a simple candle, a rose, and a short prayer, it was a spiritual reunion in the middle of earth and heaven most awaited by departed loved ones.
Now, the dead could only wish they were buried an extra six feet deeper to escape the haunting of endlessly insensitive visitors who make picnic groves out of their graves.
Instead of observing a solemn day for those who have passed away, some of us hold hangover Halloween parties in cemeteries — passing on the gin bottle; passing on a card across a cement-cold poker bed; or passing on the microphone to a frustrated singer in the family whose unforgiving voice provides enough spiny tingle to rouse the dead from eternal sleep.
Age-old tales tell of the souls in the after-life that give people a reason to be afraid of the dark. But who is the real Boogey Man with his dome sound speakers and dancing shoes? Or the Headless Horseman who carries his head inside a beer barrel? Or the zombies who couldn’t quit gambling atop grandma’s tomb?
If only the dead could form themselves a union like the Kilusang Nobyembre Uno (KNU), patterned after that strike-happy national organization of laborers, they would surely stage a protest against the living’s All Souls’ Day malpractice.
Our day-of-the-dead tradition is already unique in the world, the way it has been taught to us. Attempts to make more out of the occasion by turning it into a circus create a freak show so unamusing and disrespectful to those we could only bring back through memory.
Trick-or-treat is a tradition of the West that will end tonight. So, let’s leave our bag of tricks at home on the way to the cemetery tomorrow. Let us be sober enough to enjoy the holiday without wrecking the peace that took our dearly departed their whole lives to find and keep.
Tell our children and our children’s children stories about their departed great grandparents, lolos and lolas — not just about how they died but how they lived — for in our memories do they live forever.
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