An Englishman In Isabela Blog #97 – 40 Days Celebration

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On Wednesday night we attended a 40 days celebration of Gina’s aunt who was buried on the Saturday after Christmas. Actually it was less than 40 days but they wanted it to be a combined celebration of the birthday of one of her daughters so brought it forward. After 40 days Filipinos believe the soul of the departed goes to heaven as did that of Jesus. Although we missed it, in the morning there were also final prayers for the deceased and in a sense it is also the end of a period of mourning.
By the time we arrived the videoke singing was going strong and there was a definite gender divide, the men drinking Red Horse beer and vodka on one side and the women looking after the children on the other. The men also seemed to be dominating the videoke singing although, to use a favourite X-Factor description, it was extremely "pitchy". In fact at times it sounded as if the singer was applying a different melody.
Some good food was followed by the lighting and blowing out of candles on the birthday cake and the customary game of decorating the faces of guests with coloured icing.
We heard of more senior members of the family who were poorly and in the case of one aunt who is overeas stage four of cancer of the spine. An old school friend of Gina’s who now lives in Japan had come over to see her father who was seriously ill. We just heard that he died while she was here. Despite this sad news it was a happy occasion the other night.