REFLECTIONS ON UNDAS
“UNDAS – UNOS DIAS DE LOS ALMAS Y LOS SANTOS (Days of Souls and Saints)”
In Philippine folkloric tradition, November 1 is Araw ng Patay. The next day is Araw ng Kaluluwa. Patay and Kaluluwa are both seen in its mythic projection. Hence, “Patay” or dead is not exactly how science would see it but it is merely a transition from “non-life” in the ordinary sense to a state of being “undead” in the extraordinary sense. Hence, the dead is still living in a realm we call spiritual. The “kaluluwa” is a direct translation in the vernacular which means spirit. Spirit is also interpreted as ghost. Ghost in the vernacular is interchanged as kaluluwa or multo. “Multo” has expanded its meaning to include “aswang” or a monstrous apparition of something awful or fearsome.
Death in the Philippine setting has been made lighter with the view that those who passed away never left at all. Filipinos believe that death is merely a transition from physical to spiritual. That only the physical attribute is lost but the spirit remains in their midst. The pain reflected on those whose loved ones passed away is not actually the pain of death but could be seen as a painful interlude for losing something material. Filipinos while fatalistic remain very materialistic in the sense of possession. They believe that when matter is gone notwithstanding the change of state into something spiritual, nothing follows by way of any material relief. What is perceived as spiritual is merely as a matter of consolation.
On the whole, what are left actually are memories of the one who passed away. Whether it was a life spent worthily or unworthily depends upon those who were left to fend for themselves. For those who made good and left worthy accomplishments, the memories served well those who were left behind. For those who never made anything worthy are relegated to comic posture as “multo”, “parandam” or plain ghostly apparition.
Death is one topic that deflects scholarly concern. It is something to be avoided. It takes a back seat to a pressing concern like the art of living, or the science of loving. Life and love are more important matters than death and oblivion. Humanity shuns death. Deaths lead to nowhere except in religious rites and postulations. It has no coefficient, neither it is exponential. It has no future, it has no end. As a matter of fact, death is seen as the end.
In the biological field however, death is but a stage for evolution. It is a step towards another plane of living. It is a requirement, a mandatory period, a must. There should be death to proclaim the succeeding life. Death is not an end but the beginning of life.
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