Chinese on All Souls' Day


Judging by my name, one can tell that I am of Chinese descent but it took me fifteen years to realize that looks-wise, I am one. Well, quarter of it actually. I spent my last high school summer working in our bakery as a sales lady when some of our customers would ask me if I were Chinese. I would say yes, then turn to our employees, and ask them if I really did have those chinita eyes. They too, said yes. Then I was convinced I am evidently Chinese-blooded.

Although we had the blood of the chinky-eyed race, we were not so traditional about it. I didn't study in Chinese schools and couldn't even speak the language well. We do few common traditions though like the giving of red packets with money inside as gifts for new years, birthdays and weddings; having misua on birthdays to signify long life, feng shui for luck, and chopsticks--I'm not even good at using them despite having plenty of them from my late grandparents. These traditions are getting very common that even people without Chinese descent practice them. However, there is this day that we come to once a year that I feel so Chinese about: All Souls Day.

Filipino-Chinese people have a very interesting way of commemorating the dead. Our family and relatives visit our late grandparents in the old Chinese cemetery where they were laid to rest. Aside from candles designed with gold dragons and inscriptions, we bring incense, which are thin sticks, usually red in color, burned and placed in an urn. We also bring joss paper (Chinese dead money) which are burned as offerings to ensure that spirits of the deceased have lots of good things in the afterlife; and of course, food such as hopia, tikoy, pansit, and fruits, which are laid on the tomb as a sign that the souls share in the feast. And it is a common practice of putting the pictures of our late relatives on the altar or tomb as a way of remembering their faces.
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