Old meets new ways as Bukidnon observes ‘Kalagkalag’ 2013


Vendors sell their goods in the Shepherd's Meadow Memorial Park| Ron Christopher Neri

Vendors sell their goods in the Shepherd’s Meadow Memorial Park| Ron Christopher Neri

MUSUAN, Maramag, Bukidnon (Bukidnon News/02 November)  Ricky Lereo of Purok 4 in Valencia City is one of those who visited the cemetery in Musuan where the Central Mindanao University is located. 

He has no relatives buried here but he made sure he will be at the entrance to pursue a family tradition.

Lereo burns incense to drive away ‘bad spirits’ from those who visit the cemetery.  Those who go to cemeteries usually just burn paper or dead leaves upon exit.

But he does the traditional way of preparing incense called pamalina.

He adds kamanyan, candle, and charcoal to the dead leaves. He said the old people believe that when you pass over the incense the bad spirits will be left behind in the cemetery.

Lereo’s services are supported by donations dropped by those who pass by the incense crown as their offering.

Displacement is not limited to the informal sector.

The family of Jairus Soque from Don Carlos, Bukidnon could not find the grave of their parents in the old Malaybalay cemetery. So as tradition, they lit candles at the ‘big cross’ in the middle portion of the cemetery to honor their dead.  They had been looking for almost an hour to no avail.

Many people light candles in the big cross even to remember the dead who were buried someplace else.

“This is a kind of remembrance to our departed loved ones. They will understand that we could no longer travel to where they were buried,” said Anita, 57, whose family is from Bohol.

But as practices like this remain, so are there new experiences in remembering the dead on November 1 to 2, during the observance of the “Kalagkalag”.

In Patpat, Malaybalay City, a family brought flowers from the neighborhood garden to the graves of their departed ones.

“Aside from candles, these simple flowers show our loved for those who went ahead of us,” Cindy, who visited the grave of grand parents said.

In Kalasungay, Malaybalay City, the Pat family offered only candles in the grave of their parents and grandparents. But they prepared servings of pancit guisado with pork, Fighter wine, boiled egg, cigarettes, hot milk, and soft drinks for their dead at an alter in their house.

Frelyn Pat, one of those who prepared meals said they were used to the practice since they were children and felt obliged to continue it now that they have their own children already.

“We believe the dead somehow come back to the house during Kalagkalag,” she added.

Some families have to repair tombstones of their departed loved ones as some were vandalized in the public cemetery in Don Carlos, Bukidnon. The practice of offering food for the dead still remained in some families in Sinangguyan, Don Carlos town.

“But if we the living do not have food on the table, we will not have anything to offer the dead,” Celia, 64, mother of 10, added.

Some members of the family also take time days before the Kalagkalag to go to the graves of their departed loved ones to clear the area from weeds and dirt. Some do repainting and others put tiles to improve the appearance of the graves.

But because of busy schedule, some families tap the youth who offer their services in the cemeteries, like that in the old cemetery in Malaybalay City.

Toting, 12, from Brgy. 7, where the cemetery is located will clear weeds, apply sand paper, clean and repaint a regular size grave for P300.

“If you only need to weed out and clean up, maybe P150 will do. It depends on the negotiation,” he added.

Rom, 28, also offers P50 services to do “lettering” once the grave had been repainted.

For the more privileged ones the dead are not in apartment-like graves but in well-kept memorial gardens.

Visitors flock the Shepherd's Meadow Memorial Mark in Malaybalay City|Ron Christopher Neri

Visitors flock the Shepherd’s Meadow Memorial Mark in Malaybalay City|Ron Christopher Neri

Some of the families who visited the Shepherd’s Meadow Memorial Garden during Kalagkalag 2013 pitched tents and brought tables with them for the family gathering and relaxation.

Many of them stayed overnight in the cemetery to honor their departed loved ones. They turned the resting place of the dead into a campsite.

Some families pray during their stay, some just linger in the place to update each other. Others just brought snacks but still others brought meals with them on plates. There was also singing in some groups using instruments or a cappella.

Along with the “campers” are peanut peddlers, balloon vendors, doughnuts and SIM card booths.

Of course the booths for mass offering for the dead are not left behind.

There is an advantage for families to bring vehicles with them during the visit to the dead. But sometimes it also works to the disadvantage.

Muddy portions of the Shepherd's Meadow Memorial Park in Malaybalay City| Ron Christopher Neri

Muddy portions of the Shepherd’s Meadow Memorial Park in Malaybalay City| Ron Christopher Neri

One problem in Malaybalay’s Shepherd’s Meadow for example, was the muddy pathways due to the rain. Some vehicles cannot be parked properly because parts of the parking area are submerged in mud and water.

A relief, however, was the presence of traffic and police officers in the cemeteries who helped maintain peace and order in the area.

In the Musuan cemetery, the police were augmented by the security personnel the Central Mindanao University deployed to the area to ensure peace and order. (With reports from Iyren Dalipe and Walter Balane for Bukidnon News)