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Morbid Ranting July 21, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.

I have never figured out why Filipinos insist on the long funeral procession to the cemetary.

I ran into the tail end of one this morning as I was heading home, and whoever orchestrated this one was aspiring to put together the mother of all processions. Yes, there was the lead funeral car on a painfully slow pace. Yes, there was the convoy of vehicles behind it with, I presume, family and friends. Par for the course. And, okay, maybe that second funeral car was a little disturbing, but it’s still reasonably normal.

But then there were the three busloads of people that were part of the convoy – and I do mean busloads, as in people being bused to the cemetery. Three of them. Plus, there was the float with the Chinese lanterns and banners (I suppose the dearly departed was, well, Chinese) in the middle of it all.

And the marching band. Did I mention the marching band?

So obviously, this was a major production. My guess is that some bigwig local tycoon was being sent off to his final resting place, with the people being bused his employees (they were wearing uniforms, see). Apparently, the local authorities were informed, too, as cops were managing traffic as best they could, giving the procession right of way at nearly every intersection heading to the highway. So I have a very strong feeling that my guess is right on the money.

Just don’t make me explain that marching band.

Now, I’m all for tradition and paying respect to the dead, but what gets me is the impracticality of it all. I think the tradition is rooted in the perception that to approach matters more expeditiously is akin to whisking the corpse away to the burial ground ASAP, and good riddance. But in my book, dead is dead regardless of whether the procession itself is dragged out. And, as in all things, I think the more ostentatious such arrangements get (they had a float for goodness’ sake!), the less solemn everything becomes.

More, something must be said about the sheer chaos on the roads these processions cause, especially in Manila. In an area where traffic snarls for blocks on end and crawls at a snail’s pace, and where roads are relatively narrow to boot, it should be downright criminal to inconvenience so many motorists and pedestrians in this way. (However, I must admit this is an interesting way to annoy people from the great beyond.)

When I kick the bucket/bite the big one/go a really long time without blinking (not anytime soon, I hope!), I’d want to be laid to rest quickly, peacefully and solemnly (I also want to be cremated, but that’s another story). I suppose I will be just as anti-social in death as I am now alive, but I can’t help it. Heck, I have a hunch few people will be there to attend my funeral anyway, though I would of course be happy if I was able to draw a sizeable crowd of the all the people I cared for while alive.

But do leave the marching band out of it.



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