All Hallow’s Eve..

by Evans Yonson

Barcelona – While the Philippines is now busy preparing for the annual All Saints’ and All Souls Days trek to the cemetery, I am here in Europe occupied with the holding of a Halloween party with a group of friends. There are really differences with how we look and respect our dead. This is my third 1st of November here in Spain but this is the first time that I’m attending a party.

The first time was in 2009. I went to Cemeteri de Montjuic with friends.  It was a very gloomy day and I regretted not bringing my ever dependable Nikon camera. So in 2010, I went back with another friend and this time I was ready to shoot any thing that fancied my eyes. That week in 2010, not only did I visit the Cemeteri de Montjuic (inaugurated in 1883), again but we went to yet another centuries old burial ground, Cemeteri de Poble Nou (opened in 1775). The second cemetery was a spur of the moment decision when Pope Benedict XVI visited Barcelona. I waited for two hours and I only got a glimpse of the “holy man” for less than a second. Both cemeteries are tourist destination sites. However, tourists are discouraged to take photographs in these graveyards as a sign of respect to the dead and for their families.

Cemeteri de Montjuic (November 2010).

What struck me most in these places are the people’s concept for preserving a public resting place. These are very well-kept and heavily guarded. You will never experience that eerie feeling like when you enter a public cemetery in the Philippines. You will never have that utter disgust over the pop music of Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga, the fiesta atmosphere (must be the Mexican influence), and the family/society dictated sleep over (complete with dining tables, sleeping bags and tents). In Barcelona, they have musicians playing classical music in almost every turn of these burial grounds. People whisper. They walk slowly. They move swiftly as if they are one with the air and the unseen immortals among them. Birds chirping. Winds blowing. A thunderclap may strike once in awhile. The cool breeze of the autumn sun.

Cemeteri de Poble Nou (November 2010).

The differences are perfectly crystal. The only common thing is the dead. No matter how we look at it. The Mexicans have their fun and still respect their dead. The Spanish (the Catalans, for that matter) have their peculiar ways, too. The Filipinos even more. It’s a celebration of life. Just like Holy Scriptures (Luke 12:19) said, “Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.” Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher added a phrase to this passage – “… for tomorrow we will die.”