Undas: A time of remembering

Undas: A time of remembering

Undas, the Philippines’ celebration of All Saints’ and Souls’ Day, has become a significant part of the Philippine culture. And from preparations to practice, Filipinos have a unique way of spending this religious holiday like no other.

Located in the area of Dimasalang, Sampaloc is Bulaklakan ng Maynila or popularly called Dangwa, a flower market in Manila where a variety of the cheapest and freshest flowers in the city are sold. Most of these flowers are from the provinces of Baguio, Batangas, Davao and Tagaytay while imported ones are from countries like Thailand, Holland, China and Ecuador. During holidays, especially on Valentines, Mother’s Day and Undas, many buyers flock to Dangwa. A number of shops in the market also supply fresh flowers and offer flower arrangement services for various occasions like weddings, corporate events and more.

Flowers and candles are two of the most important things in almost every Filipino family’s traditional Undas checklist when visiting the graves of their loved ones. Business at the flower market blooms as Undas nears. Days before two of the country’s most significant religious holidays, buyers from different places in Metro Manila rush to Dangwa to buy flowers as offering to their deceased loved ones and flower vendors are certainly busy as bees. The rise in such demand leads to an increase in price where vendors usually double the rates by the end of October. Apart from fresh flowers, the prices of candles—scented or unscented, also go up.

Filipinos head home to provinces to pay homage to their deceased relatives during Undas. Cemeteries come alive as families camp out overnight beside their loved ones’ graves remembering the past, exchanging ghost stories and having picnics. Along with these, thousands of bright candles and the smell of fresh flowers create a uniquely festive atmosphere. As Undas, or Todos Los Santos, is celebrated by Christians throughout the country, it also shows a deep sense of Filipino close family ties. It is has become a way for families to reunite with other loved ones who return home from the city while some even fly back into the country.

While many return to the province, a few do not come home possibly because of conflict on work schedules or other circumstances. To avoid the traffic hassle due to huge influx of travelers, some choose to visit the graves of their loved ones ahead of time. Then during the holiday itself, they just stay at home offering prayers or mass for their beloved ones while some attend the mass instead.

Other preparations for this year’s Undas include Metro Manila Development Authority’s deployment of more than 2,000 personnel within the metro particularly in traffic prone areas such as provincial bus terminals. Safety measures are developed as authorities expect a huge number of travelers returning home for Undas. Traffic authorities have also come up with route plans for those visiting the cemeteries in the metro while more police forces are set out in different parts of the country to ensure the citizens’ security and safety during the holiday.

The practice and efforts in making Undas a well-spent holiday may seem simple, however all these represent the Filipinos’ devotion and the significance of its religious culture.

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