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By MART D. SAMBALUD
Davao Today

Tagum City – While thousands observed the traditional commemoration for the dead at the public cemetery in La Filipina during the All Saint’s and All Souls’ Day, young tomb-painters and vendors made do with some over the weekend.

Gil Bactasa, 18 and nine-year old Rolando (not his real name) said they “earned for a living” by repainting tombs.

Bactasa, who lives at Purok 2A of La Filipina village said that “mas maayo na lang ni sir kay sa mangawat ming duha. Dili pud siguro ni ulaw na trabaho. (It’s better to do this than for us to steal.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of this job)

And the boys get to earn some to support their schooling and families.

“Makatabang ni sa akong pag eskwela ug makahatag ko  gamay para sa among gastos sa among balay. Labi na karon na wala  nay trabaho akong amahan, (This will support my schooling and with this, I can also give a bit of money for the house. Especially now that my father is jobless, said Bactasa who has been doing this work for the past six years.

Bactasa said he is paid P50 for each tomb that he repaints and styles letters.

Rolando on the other hand said he earned P 1, 200 a day for repainting a tomb.

He said that this year’s Undas celebration is better compared to last year’s due to high demand of repainting jobs.  “Mas daghan ug datu nga mga customer karon, dili pareho last year nga gamay ra.  Karun mas dako akong matunol nga kwarta sa akong mama, (There are more rich customers this time, not like last year. Now I can give more money to my mother,said the nine-year old boy.

Meanwhile, Maria Lucban, 38, took advantage of the holidays to sell flowers and candles.

She said “mas daghan halin karon kay dili man gud kaayo mahal ang presyo sa akong bulak, mamili ug usahay maghanyo ang customer mao ihatag na lang nako kaysa malata ug dili na mapuslan ang bulak. (I had more earnings this time because the flowers are not expensive. I readily serve customers who are asking for cheaper flowers, rather than wait for these flowers to wilt.” 

Not only vendors were enterprising, but even a lay minister was hired by Edward Cuizon to say prayers for his departed relatives in an apartment-type tomb.

The Cuizons came all the way from Mawab, the nearest town of Compostela Valley, to pay respect to their parents.

“Taga tuig gyud kami naga duaw sa akong mama ug papa uban sa akong pamilya, tungod kay ginahatagan namo sila ug respeto apan paghinumdum isip pamilya namo (We come here every year to visit our parents),” the 45-year old market vendor said.

Rev. Fr. Ritchel Fuentes, a priest from the Christ the Eucharistic King, said this Filipino tradition date back to the ancient practice in Rome, which honors all saints and martyrs who died for the faith while All Souls’ Day commemorates the death of departed loved ones.

“It’s very important for us Christians to live our relationship with the dead in the truth of faith, and to look at death and the afterlife in the light of Revelation. Death itself is a renewal of our new and eternal life to God,” Fuentes told Davao Today in an interview.

Police stationed in La Filipina Cemetry said that visitors in the cemetery already reached about 100,000.

Police officer SPO1 Ignacio Kabingue, who was stationed at La Filipina cemetery, told Davao Today that the recent Undas was “generally peaceful and orderly as there were no reported incidents of violence.”  (Mart Dumali Sambalud, davaotoday.com)

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