CYBERSPACE, OCTOBER 29, 2011 (WIKIPINAS) Undas (also known as Todos los Santos, Araw ng mga Patay, or All Saints' Day) is a holiday honouring the dead, widely celebrated in the Philippines.

Filipino families traditionally visit cemeteries on November 1 or 2, to hold gatherings around the graves of their departed loved ones and lay out flowers and candles. Often the occasion is treated as a reunion or banquet, with families bringing food and drink and camping out all day or even overnight. It is an official, state-recognized holiday, so people get leave from school or work on these days.


Some families visit the cemetery several days in advance to clean up the grave site and repaint the tombstones, so that the graves look more presentable on the day itself. They also offer masses in memory of the faithful departed.

Pangangaluluwa is a practice usually seen in the provinces, where a group of people stop by different houses on the night of All Saints' Day, singing and asking for alms and prayers. They are said to represent the souls stuck in purgatory, asking for prayers from the living to help them get to heaven.

Pag-aatang or Atang is an Ilocano belief and practice -- a food offering for the departed soul to show respect, affection and remembrance for the loved ones who passed away.

Other practices With everyone flocking to the cemetery at the same time, there is usually heavy traffic on the surrounding roads, particularly in Manila. Finding a parking space is extremely difficult. Cemetery visitors often find it easier to just walk to their family plot.

In Manila, city mayors often organize "Project Undas" in anticipation of the holiday. This includes driving out squatters who erect makeshift houses inside public burial sites, chasing down drug addicts who hide in empty tombs, and organizing traffic routes to ease the anticipated traffic jam.

Two or three days before All Saints' Day, sellers of flowers or candles sometimes jack up their prices by as much as 500 percent. People swarm to different flower markets such as the Dangwa Flower Market to buy made to order or ready-made flower arrangements to be offered for their departed loved ones.

The holiday is often linked with the spooky American-inspired celebration of Halloween on October 31st. TV programs such as news or expose shows often have special episodes themed around ghosts and hauntings.


In the Philippines, it is called Araw ng mga Patay (Day of the Dead), Todos Los Santos or Undas (the latter two due to the fact that this holiday is celebrated on November 1, All Saints Day), designated by the Roman Catholic Church).

The Filipino citizens treat it as an almost festive event and has more of a "family reunion" atmosphere. It is said to be an "opportunity to be with" the departed and is done in a somewhat solemn way.

When November 1 hits the calendar, the “Araw ng mga Patay” for the Filipinos start, as a celebration of the solemn and collective remembrance of the Day of the Dead. The almost festive movements are not short, for in fact lasts till the next day, which is the All Souls Day.

Catholics in the Philippines have a tradition of setting aside their days to wind down and remember their dead loved ones. Since the Philippines have the most number of catholic citizens in the whole of Asia, a lot of people celebrate the fact that the whole of the state has a mandatory two day vacation for the whole country.

People who are asked to work on those days need to be receiving a special rate of wage. This is a luxury that is granted to the Filipinos to commemorate for all the passed away souls of those who died and the saints. Although it would seem queer to some people that the Filipinos celebrate the solemn All Saints Day and All Souls Day in a joyous way, what they do not understand is that the Filipinos are naturally happy people. They truly respect their passed away loved ones very much, but they want to remember the good times with their ancestors instead of the bad.


A lot of Filipino people celebrate these holidays in different ways, such as creating unique singing or musical group that is named a “pangangaluluwa” and then go around the town, and sing on the night of the All Saints Day. The whole point and idea of a “pangangaluluwa” group is to represent the passed away people going from door to door asking for alms and prayers from the living. They are also the representative for the souls stuck in purgatory that ask for small gifts from the houses that they do visit.

There are thirteen holy Roman Catholic churches that are situated all over the Philippines. It is customary for the traditional Roman Catholics to go to all these churches and pray in them, in order to make your ancestors happy. Purgatory is not a happy place for souls, as said in traditional catholic lessons, and you should be able to help the souls of your ancestors when you complete praying in all of the thirteen churches.

Almost every one of the tombs of the passed away are decorated in the All Saints Day by their families. Most Filipino families who stick with traditional ways and customs often bury their dead loved ones together in the same tomb. It would seem weird to other people who are from another country that Filipinos would decorated such solemn tombs with balloons and bright decorations, but to the Filipinos it almost lifts some of the burden of losing a loved one.



Philippine culture is related to Polynesian, Micronesian, Malaysian and Latin American cultures. The people today are mostly Polynesians, although there are people with Spanish, Micronesian, Mexican, Malaysian and Chinese blood. Geographically, the Philippines is considered part of Southeast Asia.

However, the Philippine culture has many differences with other Asian cultures, and has similarities with the cultures of the Pacific Islands and Latin America, such as in language, food, religion, traditions and ethnicity.

It is known to Filipinos that they are descendants of people who came from Malaysia, however that is not true. Most Filipinos are Malay, but Malay doesn't mean from Malaysia, it means the Polynesians. The indigenous culture is related to those of Melanesia and the later Polynesian culture has similarities to Pacific Island cultures. These similarities include the Filipino language and ethnicity; most common with that of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Spanish colonization heavily influenced the culture.

The most significant influence is the religion - Catholicism, plus, Spanish is spoken in some parts of the Philippines, and there are even some descendants of the Colonizers today. As well as the Spanish culture, the Native Mexican culture was introduced as the Philippines was governed from Mexico. In Filipino, there are many borrowed words from Native Mexican languages. And Some people also have Native American origins.

Today, many people do not acknowledge the Philippine's relations with Latin America, Spain and the Pacific Islands. Instead, because of the country's location, it is common to notice the similarities with other Asian countries, although there are much less.

The indigenous population in the Philippines, known as the Negritos, has many similarities with the people of Melanesia and Papua New Guinea. Some of these people wear traditional clothes such as grass skirts, live in isolated villages in the mountains and rainforest and practice traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles.

After the Negritos, Groups of Polynesians came to the Philippines, coming from Taiwan (Filipinos are not descendants of the Han-Chinese Taiwanese people who inhabit Taiwan today, but the Taiwanese aborigines, who have a very small population.) and spreading as far as Madagascar, Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. Today you can see similarities in language, ethnicity and traditions between the Philippines and Pacific Island cultures, as they have common origins.

Later, a small amount of people coming from Malaysia and Indonesia also settled the islands.


Spanish colonization in the Philippines lasted from 1565 to 1898. Most of that time the islands were governed from Mexico and later directly from Spain. As a result, there is a significant amount of Spanish and Mexican influence in Philippine customs and traditions. Hispanic influences are visible in traditional Philippine folk music and dance, cuisine, festivities, religion, ethnicity and language. In Filipino, there are many Native American words that were introduced by the Mexicans in the Philippines.

The most visible example of Spanish are the Spanish names of Filipinos, which were given through a tax law, the thousands of Spanish loanwords in native languages such as Tagalog and Cebuano, the Spanish speaking parts of the Philippines, and the majority Catholic religion.

Later, the Philippines was a territory of the United States from 1898 until 1946. American influences are widely evident in the use of the English language, and in contemporary pop culture, such as music, film, fast-food, and basketball.

There are also strong similarities with the Pacific islands, Mexico, and Spain. There are some similarities with Islamic Malaysian and Indonesian cultures, and Chinese and Japanese.

This following article from Wikipedia is about the Latin American holiday. (MEXICO)

[PHOTO -  Day of the Dead ofrenda.]

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.

It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality of a National Holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2).

Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.


Sculpture with skeletons made for Day of the Dead at the Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City.People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the three-day period, families usually clean and decorate graves; most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas ("offerings"), which often include orange mexican marigolds (Tagetes erecta) called cempasúchitl (originally named cempoalxochitl, Nahuatl for "twenty flowers").

In modern Mexico, this name is sometimes replaced with the term Flor de Muerto ("Flower of the Dead"). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings.

[PHOTOS - Catrinas, one of the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico.]

Toys are brought for dead children (los angelitos, or "the little angels"), and bottles of tequila, mezcal or pulque or jars of atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased's favorite candies on the grave. Ofrendas are also put in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto ("bread of the dead"), and sugar skulls and beverages such as atole.

The ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased. Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the "spiritual essence" of the ofrendas food, so even though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value. Pillows and blankets are left out so that the deceased can rest after their long journey. In some parts of Mexico, such as the towns of Mixquic, Pátzcuaro and Janitzio, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives. In many places, people have picnics at the grave site as well.

Some families build altars or small shrines in their homes; these usually have the Christian cross, statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of deceased relatives and other persons, scores of candles and an ofrenda. Traditionally, families spend some time around the altar, praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing, so that when they dance, the noise will wake up the dead; some will also dress up as the deceased.

Public schools at all levels build altars with ofrendas, usually omitting the religious symbols. Government offices usually have at least a small altar, as this holiday is seen as important to the Mexican heritage.

Those with a distinctive talent for writing sometimes create short poems, called calaveras ("skulls"), mocking epitaphs of friends, describing interesting habits and attitudes or funny anecdotes. This custom originated in the 18th or 19th century, after a newspaper published a poem narrating a dream of a cemetery in the future, "and all of us were dead", proceeding to "read" the tombstones. Newspapers dedicate calaveras to public figures, with cartoons of skeletons in the style of the famous calaveras of José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican illustrator. Theatrical presentations of Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla (1817–1893) are also traditional on this day.

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (colloquially called calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for "skeleton"), and foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls are gifts that can be given to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.

José Guadalupe Posada created a famous print of a figure that he called La Calavera de la Catrina ("calavera of the female dandy") as a parody of a Mexican upper-class female. Posada's striking image of a costumed female with a skeleton face has become associated with the Day of the Dead, and Catrina figures often are a prominent part of modern Day of the Dead observances.

[PHOTO - Gran calavera eléctrica ("Grand electric skull") by José Guadalupe Posada, 1900–1913.]

The traditions and activities that take place in celebration of the Day of the Dead are not universal and often vary from town to town. For example, in the town of Pátzcuaro on the Lago de Pátzcuaro in Michoacán, the tradition is very different if the deceased is a child rather than an adult.

On November 1 of the year after a child's death, the godparents set a table in the parents' home with sweets, fruits, pan de muerto, a cross, a rosary (used to ask the Virgin Mary to pray for them) and candles. This is meant to celebrate the child's life, in respect and appreciation for the parents. There is also dancing with colorful costumes, often with skull-shaped masks and devil masks in the plaza or garden of the town.

At midnight on November 2, the people light candles and ride winged boats called mariposas (Spanish for "butterflies") to Janitzio, an island in the middle of the lake where there is a cemetery, to honor and celebrate the lives of the dead there.

In some parts of the country (especially the cities, where in recent years there are displaced other customs), children in costumes roam the streets, knocking on people's doors for a calaverita, a small gift of candies or money; they also ask passersby for it. This custom is similar to that of Halloween's trick-or-treating and is relatively recent.

Some people believe that possessing Day of the Dead items can bring good luck. Many people get tattoos or have dolls of the dead to carry with them. They also clean their houses and prepare the favorite dishes of their deceased loved ones to place upon their altar or ofrenda.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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