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Philippine cultural lesson of the day

more HERE.

and then there are the haunted places LINK

many of the haunted places are from World war II, including the "red house" near us. that has recently been demolished.

More photos at

Not only a place where "comfort women" were kept, but a place of other atrocities: 

According to the caretaker of the house, the women of Mapanique (a barrio near the house) and other places nearby were held by the japanese soldier were brought inside the house, and used them as “comfort women”, some died during the stay in the house, crying and wailing for help.
Moreover, Filipino guerillas caught by the soldiers were starved, brought to the large lawn beside the house tied together, then burned alive.
The stories kindled the rumors that the house is a place for troubled souls seeking for justice. 
Lolo pointed out the house when I first moved here, and hinted that he thought his cousin had been killed there.

His cousin and brother were active in the local anti Japanese guerillas... the cousin was captured/killed, and his sisters had a small shrine in their house remembering him, that included a "thank you" letter from President Truman.

 Lolo, who was a young teenager at the time, only joined them at the end of the war, but didn't see combat per se: Mainly he worked to patrol the streets. So he is considered a Philippine veteran, and did get his schooling paid for by the government. I get a small pension from this. (but no, he is not considered a US veteran so we didn't get that money).

Bataan is also full of ghosts: but Americans don't seem to realize that most of those who died in the "death march" were locals, not from the USA.

and then there are the "Ghost trees" formed when the Fiscus vine kills the tree it is growing on, and you are left with a hollow area for the ghost to hide in.

finally, here in the provinces, you hold the viewing in your house, with friends and neighbors keeping watch. Often the men sit outside drinking beer and playing cards while the women are inside talking and eating snacks. If the house is small, often outside there is an awning to keep the sun off the visitors.

Often it takes days for the "OFW" and migrant relatives to come so you can do the burial. In Lolo's case, it took a week for his daughter to get here, and it would have taken longer if I hadn't put my foot down and scheduled it when I found what was delaying his burial and said no more waiting (his ex wife didn't have a passport and was pressuring the daughter to wait until she could get one...which would have taken another week).

Often you have bands or music to entertain the visitors, plus snacks and meals.

The funeral procession is slow, and often the family hires a band to play for the marchers, and even a horse drawn herse for the coffin (Dr. Ito had this, but not Lolo).

Then you go to mass, and then to the cemetary for the burial, which takes another hour. In the hot sun. (yes, vendors are usually nearby if you get thirsty, and local kids are there to beg pesos).

Unlike the US, you never bury jewelry etc with the loved one.

And after the funeral, and even after you leave the wake, you don't go straight home: you visit a restaurant and eat. The idea is so that the ghost doesn't follow you home and haunt you.

wikipedia has a more "official" description of funeral customs here.

we don't do a lot of them: Lolo lived for 40 years in the USA and wanted a simple burial, and his son lived part of his life in the US and is Protestant, so a lot of the customs were not kept... except of course from fights from the relatives who thought we should make the funeral and gravesite fancier (but didn't offer to give us money to pay for the extras). But that's another story for another post.

we still have the mass on the tenth day and 40th day, inspired by an ancient belief (not only here) that the spirit stays around for 40 days before going to his or her reward. And the 40 days of prayer goes back to the ancient church, so it is not a purely "pagan" custom, as local (anti Catholic) protestants like to insist.

but it is more of a custom or folk belief, not a dogma.

I seem to remember they did this prior to Vatican II in the USA. But in today's efficient world, even the conservative Catholic site EWTN pooh poohs that old custom, maybe because Americans don't believe in ghosts...

This post first appeared on Finest Kind Clinic And Fishmarket, please read the originial post: here

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Philippine cultural lesson of the day


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