Filipinos Mourning For The Dead
One afternoon in a squatter area in the woods of Antipolo the owner of a squatter houseI was visiting informed me that his neighbor had died. The man was working a job that dealt with a lot of chemicals. He inhaled them every day at work because the chemical substances were in the air; so over time the man died. It was very sad. Apparently there are many unsafe work practices in the Philippines that cause all kinds of deaths each year.
The squatter house I was in was on higher ground than the other house next to it so I looked outside the door and saw some children down next to the house outside and one woman. They evidently were visiting the body of the dead man who died from the chemicles. In Catholic and Pagan, syncretistic Filipino culture the dead are brought to their house and dressed in the nicest clothes the dead owned when they were alive and placed in their bed. The relatives leave the body in the house for at least a week, and sometimes two weeks. In this case it was two weeks. The time allotment depends on how far away the dead’s family members live from the house.
I was told that when family members show up to pay their respects to the dead body they mourn. There is a lot of whaling and crying very loud. The man who owned the house I was visiting told me that you could hear the family members screaming really loud. So people will stop by when they can to cry loudly for the dead body before it is buried.
After this mourning is over there is a funeral service. I was informed, that it is much like a typical western funeral where people hold a service in a church, mainly a Catholic church, and the body is in a casket. They leave the casket open and people can pay their respects before the body is buried.
This custom is something that is done by Catholic Filipinos and syncristic pagan Filipinos. Most Filipinos believe in some sort of Catholicism, even if they are pagans. If they are not religious the Catholic culture is heavily ingrained in their customs. Non-Catholics, especially protestants have different styles of funerals. Evangelical Filipinos do not keep the body inside the house, but quickly bury the body in the same manner as what usually occurs in the United States.
I had visited the man who owned the squatter house with a local youth pastor of a Baptist church. The pastor I was with in a polite way mocked how they mourned for the dead body and asked me if I would come visit him in his house if he died and would cry loudly. I said “Sure,” jokingly. And he replied with: “And you will see that my body has risen from the dead and is no longer around!” He was implying that since he is a Believer that he will be raised from the dead and go to heaven so mourning has absolutely no point.
It was interesting to be able to hear about Filipino funerals and how the Filipinos mourn for their dead. I did not get a chance to attend the actual service or see the dead body in the house. It would not have been appropriate for me to ask to go or to see the body since I did not know the man. So I had to observe the visitors from the outside. Apparently their mourning time was over because I heard no one crying or screaming. Just sad faces on people, but the children were playing. It was interesting.
This makes me think about the hope the Christian has at death and the celebration his friends would give knowing their fellow brother in Christ has gone to see God in Heaven and have Eternal peace and freedom. The paganis, including Catholics, do not have such a hope as they view the world in what is going on now. People who do not worship the true God, or do not put God first in their lives will always suffer devastation at the loss of a loved one. The Christian may shed a few tears, but there is no fear or despair or hopelesness that the pagan worshipers suffer. Our hope is being united in Heaven through Jesus Christ. Hopefully when I die, everyone I know will throw a party and laugh with joy at the thought of me getting to Heaven before them. When I am there I will wait for my brothers and sisters to meet me later and we will have many stories to share. I cannot wait to be in God’s loving presence! It is going to be a truly great family reunion!