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Filipino Culture and Funerals

Note From Rusty: Before moving to the Philippines, I got a lesson in Filipino culture.  It was a hard time for Jessie in the loss of her much loved aunt. She told me about many of these funeral customs in the Philippines that she has written about here. I was fascinated by it. It is better coming from her than myself.

Wake in the Philippines

Filipino Culture and FamilyFilipino generally hold a wake (lamay or paglalamay) that last for five to seven days. Sometimes it last longer if the surviving family is waiting for someone who needs to travel from other places. In the province, a funeral is held in the home of the deceased. But people from the city would sometimes prefer to hold the wake in a funeral home.

 Funerals in the Philippines varies from region, culture and belief of the Filipino. Filipinos believe in the afterlife and give respect and attention to the dead people. Apart from spreading the news of the death verbally, obituaries are also published in the newspaper.

The guests and viewers offers condolences and financial donations also called abuloy to help with the funeral and burial cost. Food and warm drinks are served during the vigil every night. To keep the guest awake, there are various activities conducted outside the vigil area. It includes singing, guitar playing and gambling – such as playing cards, bingo or mahjong. Half of the winning are sometimes donated for the burial cost. Guests offers mass, prayers and novenas for the benefit of the deceased.

Funeral In the Philippines

On the burial day, the coffin is loaded into a hearse or carried by family members, friends and relatives in a procession towards the church and to its final resting place, the cemetery. It is also called a Funeral March. Other family members, friends and relatives follow after the procession.

After the burial, the Christian Filipinos offers prayers for the dead every evening for 9 consecutive nights. It is a custom known as pasiyam (execute for nine days). On the ninth day of the novena, the family held a formal meal for the relatives and friends. Christians believe that this is the day where the soul of the dead moves on from the world of the living. The bereavement period does not end there. It goes on for a year. During this time, the family withhold celebrating various communal activities. It is also very common to conduct an additional evening prayers for 40 nights after the 9 day period, and then on the one year death anniversary.

Burial Customs

Filipino superstitious beliefs involves the appearance of certain animals that are black in color. For example, a black colored butterfly lingering around an individual indicates that the next of kin of that person died. The sighting of a black cat on the way to the hospital means that he or she may not survive the disease. The appearance of an owl near the home of the sick means imminent death for that person.

There are beliefs that certain dreams, odors, odd numbers pertains to death. For example, loosing a tooth in a dream is an omen that a relative will soon die. The sudden arrival of the scent of a burning candle (no lit candles nearby) means a relative just died. Avoiding taking photograph of three persons together (to avoid the death of the one placed in the middle). Lifting the children related to the dead over the casket before burial to hinder the ghost of the dead from visiting the children.

Beliefs and customs differs from province to province. I don’t know if my beliefs is also theirs.

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Filed under: Filipino Culture

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