Pangasinenses remember the dead through food, prayer and song

By April M. Montes-Bravo

THE observance of Undas is something very close to every Filipino’s heart. 

More than just being a religious tradition that has lived on for centuries, it is also a clear testament to the Filipinos’ strong family values and sense of kinship as they honor and remember their departed loved ones during this time.

There is no definite rule on how Undas is celebrated in the Philippines, but here are a few things Filipinos usually do to commemorate the deceased during the season.

In Pangasinan, the solemn tradition of observing Undas is not complete without these elements – food, prayer and song.

PADASAL. The Bravo family in Anda, Pangasinan holds a “padasal,” a prayer session to honor their departed patriarch this coming Undas. Padasal is one of the traditions practice every Undas to thank and honor the departed. Families who are not so well-versed with the details of the tradition hire prayer warriors, usually the elderly, to lead a prayer marathon for their dead family and relatives. (photo by April M. Montes-Bravo/PIA Pangasinan)

During Undas, sweet and delicious black rice cakes called “inlubi,” made from cooking “deremen,” are prepared and served to family members and guests during the celebration of the feast for the dead.

Part of this delicacy is placed on houses’ altars as “atang” or offering to dead kin whose spirits are believed to possibly pay a visit on those days.

Padasal,” a prayer session for the dearly departed, is also traditionally held to thank and honor the departed. 

Hence, the prayers involve frequently reciting the name of the person the prayer is offered for.

Families who are not so well-versed with the details of the tradition hire prayer warriors, usually the elderly, to lead a prayer marathon for their dead family and relatives.

“Cantores” or singers would also gather on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and go from house to house singing the song “Pantawtawag” (calling), which some house owners give money to them or sweetened rice cakes as a reward for their singing.

Brigida Tuazon of San Jacinto town said the “cantores” will also assume the roles of the souls of the dead and take advantage of the situation to steal small items from house owners, all done in the spirit of fun.

Tuazon said that the practice is called “panagkamarerwa,” which is taken from the Pangasinan word “kamarerwa” or soul.

When the owners find out about the missing items the following day, they let the incident pass, saying what they lost were “akamarerwa” or taken by roaming souls.

“Sad to say, this tradition has been dying and slowly being forgotten,” Tuazon lamented.(PIA Pangasinan)

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