Monday, November 3, 2008

Trip To Memorial Park: A Sacrifice For The Living

Traffic is worst when I thought it’s less. Thinking November 2, “All Souls Day” is the appropriate time to go to cemetery, I preferred the said date to visit our dead dearest ones. But to my disappointment and as if all the wrath of purgatory showered to every motorist on the road, my timing was the worst I may never forget.

Few days before “All Saints’ Day”, I was already planning how I will visit our beloved departed. We are from Laguna, Philippines, south of Manila Memorial Park which is located in Paranaque City. My plan was to go on Sunday, November 2, and not on the first day of November to avoid traffic and crowded cemetery site. Friday and Monday sandwiching the Halloween days were regular working days and were not declared holiday as has been usually pronounced years ago by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and we have not anticipated those days as others did. We prepared candles, flowers, chairs, and temporary tent for shelter on hot day or in case it rains as the weather’s Intertropical Convergence Zone is threatening the area during the week. For food we prepared “Pansit” noddle and loaf bread as substitute to the traditional food we have in the barrio or countryside such as “Suman Sa Ibos”, Biko or rice cake, and “Kalamay.” All these are traditionally done by Filipino families in remembering their dead love ones on “All Saints’ Day.”

Came Saturday, November 1st, in the morning the weather was uncooperative. It was raining as has been forecasted by the weather bureau and many failed to make it in the cemetery. Few tried in the afternoon when the rain stopped as was broadcasted over the radio and television’s news. During the night, cemetery visitors were quite heavy as those who were unable to proceed in the morning decided to come in the evening. And these I thought would have lessened the volume of traffic for the following day.

Then, came Sunday as we have prepared with all we need and also, I saw to it that our car is road worthy to avoid any inconveniences while on travel. But the night before, my son, Ivan unexpectedly called from Singapore that he will be leaving by midnight through Philippine Airline and will be arriving by 4:00 A.M. Sunday. He requested that we fetch him from NAIA airport. So we moved again our schedule to afternoon cemetery meeting.

On our way to Manila Memorial Park, right after the exit toll gate and highway overpass at Sucat, Paranaque City, we were crawling like a turtle in the dense road. Vehicles coming from different directions converged in the only road to cemetery site. There were those who stopped on the roadside to buy candles, flowers, etc. from road peddlers, flower shops, and food vendors. All these compounded the road pandemonium. As we got near the gate of the memorial park, the more snail-paced movement we got entangled with. We reached our destination site already very, very late to the consternation of our relatives.

That short distance, we negotiated from highway junction to the park gate, took us two hours –a one and a half kilometre stretch- to enable us to get in.

I chose not to relate what happened next inside the memorial park. I’m still profusely exasperated. You too might have experienced the same –the worse sacrifice for the living!

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