Metro Manila · Funeral Traditions and Mourning Ceremonies

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Funeral traditions among the Catholic majority in the Philippines are similar to other Catholic countries in the world. However, there are certain customs that are particularly Filipino.

The Wake

When a person dies, relatives and friends hold a wake to mourn and remember the deceased. This period typically lasts three to seven days, sometimes longer, to give mourners from far away the chance to participate as well. The embalmed corpse is displayed in an open coffin during the wake, surrounded by flowers and candles. It either stays in the house of the family (more common in the provinces) or in a funeral home.

The wake and funeral often become a big family reunion. Mourners take turns to ensure that day and night some people are attending the wake. They pray and grief, talk openly about life and death of the deceased, and even play cards and other games to stay awake during the long nights.

The immediate family of the deceased provides snacks and coffee for the guests. To finance the funeral, visitors donate money in a contribution box or personally.

Funeral and Mourning

Catholic Filipinos are buried in the coffin, cremation is very uncommon. In the provinces, the coffin is traditionally transported to the cemetery in a long, slow procession. This gives neighbors another chance to pay their respect. A mass is held before the actual burial. The funeral guests usually wear black. For Chinese Filipinos, however, the color of grief is white.

Certain beliefs are still widespread, and there are varying rules to avoid bad luck and to prevent the spirit of the deceased from haunting funeral guests: no bringing home food from the funeral, no wearing of certain colors, no sweeping the floor,...

The bereaved offer nine days of prayer after the funeral. Regular visits of the grave are common, especially during holidays. The official mourning period ends with a mass one year after the death. All Saints' and All Souls' Day are the traditional days when all Filipinos flock to the cemeteries to commemorate their loved ones.

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