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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Visiting the dead

I got home from church late tonight since it rained real hard that I had to wait for it to stop. Good thing it did not rain the whole day since we went to the cemetery to visit papa and Lola Bebe’s grave for All Saints day. Pretty sorry for those people that would stay overnight there though since they surely got wet… very wet!!!

The cemetery was NOT noisy (good thing!) and crowded as in previous years but there were still a lot of people… still like a big picnic! There were a lot of military, police and civilians assisting in the traffic flow and security so that we did not encounter any untoward incident.

We knew that parking along the road on the cemetery park was limited and we were thinking how we could make mama’s walk from the car to our lot (then back) easier and shorter since she still has difficulty walking. The first option was to come early to get a good parking slot near our lots, but if we did, then mama might have the urge to pee and toilets are far from our place. So we did not come too early. We got there around 10:00 am and there were already a lot of vehicles on the road to our cemetery. Traffic was slow! My sister and I even had a chance to get out of the car, buy flowers and look through some ceramics and porcelain for sale then easily catch up with our car again. When we were already near our lot, we asked the police there if we could park near since mama had difficulty walking and we were in luck. He gave us a good place just near the path walk to our lot.

So there were 11 of us that visited, 6 adults and 5 hyperactive kids! The visitors in the lot beside us set up a tent that extended up to ours so we just added some to their tent plus set up our picnic umbrellas and we had enough shade. We have come to know them over the years and they know that we only stay a short time so that they use up our portion when we are no longer around and give us some shade while we are there. Pretty good trade, I think.

Like most of the people there, we also offered flowers and lighted candles. The lawn was neat since we had a caretaker and he even provided some nicely arranged flowers… of course we also brought some including orchids from our garden. Unlike some visitors there though, we did not offer food for the dead. We had lunch there and of course the whole family said prayers, well most of the kids could not keep still but the adults still managed to say the prayers. We left the place around 1:30 pm and there were still a lot of people coming in to visit.

While there, mama reminded me again to get a slot in an ossuary in our parish church. The ossuary was housed in the third lower level of our church before but when we visited them a long time ago she did not appreciate it since it looked gloomy. But when they have placed a garden beside the church and included ossuaries in the garden. She really liked it and said she wanted to have papa and lola Bebe’s remains transferred there.

There was an offer before in our office for columbary and we visited the place. It was still under construction and though the place, the columbary of Sto. Nino de Cebu was really nice, it was a bit far from our place and the package was high for my pocket at that time so I was looking for another option and found the one in our parish since the garden was near completion at that time.

They called the one in our parish an ossuary while the other one a columbary and they looked the same to me. I checked it out and noted that an ossuary is for the skeletal remains while the columbary is a vault with niches for urns containing ashes of the dead, so I would say that both places are a combination of an ossuary and columbary. Both would contain urns either of ashes or bones.

Ever since the Catholic church allowed cremation of the dead provided that the remains are buried in grave, mausoleum, columbarium or ossuarium (and not scattered in sea, air, land; or split among relatives…hmmm do people do that???) there has been a rise in construction of columbaries including in church premises. The Capitol Memorial Chapel that used to provide really good funeral service has been torn down and is now the location of the nearly completed Sanctuarium. I passed it nearly everyday and it is really huge! I understand it is not just going to house a columbary but will also have a crematory, vigil chapels, and family rooms that would most likely look like hotel rooms. So will this mean a decline in mausoleums that are as big and functional as houses (and even airconditioned)? I don’t really know. All I know is that dying is one huge business in the Philippines!


Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Very interesting and informative entry, Beth.

I was just over at Araneta Avenue last weekend to take pictures of the Sanctuarium.

10:36 PM  

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