Around 8 pm I got into the car with Sister Nido and others to head over to the Relief Society presidents home because her mother died earlier in the week and we were going to her wake.
It is dark at 6:30 but we still found the place up near an alley. We all jumped out except Sister Nido the driver who went somewhere else to park. It was explained to me as we walked along the alley with concrete on both sides that in a typhoon the water would be over our heads and reach the top floors of the homes. They are built narrow and up to avoid the occasional floods. (Last one happened in 2009) Going up the steep concrete stairs we land in the middle of a bright green kitchen. Turning to my left is a small reception area before you can go up the stairs again to the next floor –and the next? I assume the bedrooms and such are up stairs as I noted suitcases being brought up. I am getting a great appreciation why Filipinos are skinny despite the meat and rice diet they have - its because life is so active to live everyday. All the stairs were very high and steep. I have long legs and would love to see how all those really short people climb the stairs. Too bad I couldn’t ask someone to demonstrate.
In the reception area – about 8 feet across was a bench and the coffin next to the stairs. It is too expensive to use a Mortuary to view the body. I was trying to figure out how they got that large coffin up the stairs and parked it next to the stairs. The stairs going up had a curtain veiling them so the curtain backed the coffin. I don’t know if the coffin was sealed or not but we could look into it with a glass plate over the half of that showed her face. The windows were open air though there were glass planes in the shutters that could be closed on occasion and open iron grill that could be closed too. Nice for us the windows were open and the fan was blowing. Lots and lots of people were there. The tiny kitchen had chairs and people, the benches were lined with people, to the right of the benches there were more chairs (obviously borrowed) lined under the window. Visitors would shuffle past our knees to go up the stair case and children would weave in and out going various places. Sister Sere was very kind and talked to me about the differences between viewings and wakes in America and asked what the differences were from the Philippines. I didn't find a lot of differences except the size of the home. I have heard stories from my mother-in-law and others of caskets being in the parlor or living room with people coming to visit and the vigil through the night.
I was told that if the casket can't be brought into the house then they leave it in the alley or by the entrance to the home with a tent over it and the flowers so when visitors come they can view them there.
Another interesting tidbit - in non-LDS wakes/viewings the family visits and bring out cards to gamble with relatives and friends and the "house" takes the pot and that is how they finance the funerals. Maybe a way to save face? In the LDS homes people just give the family little envelopes.
They serve little tidbits of tarts and other treats with drinks and straw every once in awhile and after an hour or more I tried one of the treats. I've found that desserts are not made with sugar. The only sweetness they use are the fruit themselves. Once you get over what you are used to it was good. you don't fill up and feel sluggish like you would in America.
|I tried the tarts in the middle that are made with a crust and some fruit I have never heard of - it was interesting and not bad. The little bags have something like crackers and other little treats.|
I didn't know that most of the people were planing to stay until midnight or so. I really think the Sere's were being generous and kind when they offered to take me home a little after 10 pm when they were asking about my day and work and I told them I usually get up early to go to work. I don't think I brought anyone comfort but I did give a little envelope so I hope that counts. I think I learned more and gained more than anything I "gave". I love this place and country!