“In lieu [sic] of All Saints Day (Oct. 31) [sic] and All Souls Day (Nov.1) [sic], our store hours will be from 6am to 10pm.”
— Sign on the cash register of the grocery outlet in my neighborhood.
I’ve always thought that although All Saints and All Souls are, uh, celebrated each year with such seriousness yet most people aren’t even sure about the exact dates of each holiday, is a perfect example of how tradition tends to make us — how do I put this nicely — brain dead. (I’m being serious. The grocery store I mentioned also had this glass display case with five gift baskets that must’ve weighed two kilos each which were placed on top, and a sign that said, “Please do not lean on the glass.”) We just do things because we’ve always done them, our parents made us do them, and their parents’ parents made them do them. Of course, most people don’t think that not remembering when All Saints Day and All Souls Day are is such a big deal. Maybe it’s not, except for a few of us crazy deviants who like calling things by their proper names.
Still, it makes me wonder if it’s not a symptom of our tendency to never reexamine ourselves and the things we do. Take values, for instance. You get every priest and politician saying stuff along the lines of “The Philippines will never have divorce because Filipinos give importance to Christian family values.” It’s not true, of course. We elected Erap, a man who never even bother to keep his mistresses secret, as president not, it seems to me, despite of his marital failings but because of them — correct me if I’m wrong, but I think most Pinoy men secretly want to have lots of women and money more than they want to uphold family values. Despite the fact that Catholicism (Catholics make up a large percent of the Philippine population) teaches that sex outside marriage is wrong, everyone I know is either having sex or trying to have sex (as well they should!) — and I don’t know a lot of married people. Clearly, whatever values the Church like to pretend we hold are all in their head. Still, whenever someone talks about Christian family values, we nod in agreement. We had a senate hearing on publicly leaked sex tapes, for crying out loud, where politicians who have illegitimate children and mistresses got to act all righteous, as if the sight of two consenting single adults having sex was the most disgusting thing ever*.
Reexamination is not something we give importance to.
There are a couple of cemeteries near my place. Some streets had to be closed to traffic, so the vendors selling candles, flowers and food will have someplace to set up. There are people everywhere, visiting the graves of their friends and families. It’s a nice tradition, I think, to have one day a year when we remember the people we’ve loved and lost. But the importance of remembering is not something we should passively leave to tradition. Let’s take things personally, and think about why we do what we do on November 1. Maybe even occasionally visit our grandparents’ graves on days that are not a legally prescribed holiday. Maybe give importance to people in our lives before they leave us forever. Let us have lots of safe, consensual, fun sex while we can. Let us each decide what our values are, and not wait for other people to tell us what we think is important. Just a thought.
*I know the women on those tapes felt embarrassed and humiliated, and I feel for them, but I hardly think that a public hearing would have done them any good. What we need, I think, would be legislation that will protect people’s privacy in these situations.