My wife's 84-year-old Tita (Aunt) Iluminada Gange Galve died a week ago last Thursday from complications due to a fall that caused a severe head injury . Tita Iluminda was my father-in-law's sister and the mother of Cousin Emma, proprietor of "The Jade and Joe Market" in Guimaras. Tita had been blind for several years and had suffered the fall over a month ago in which she hurt her shoulder and experienced extensive brain damage. The local doctor did not want to operate on her due to her age, and she was just given medication.
The past week has had family members from "The Compound" going over to Cousin Emma's house to view Tita's body and to console and visit the grieving family. It is common practice in the Philippines to have the deceased person's body on view in the household for a week or even longer to allow relatives and friends to visit the home and pay their respects. I remember that this was certainly the case in the passing of Cousin Edgar.
Went to the Funeral Mass for Tita yesterday, Sunday afternoon, held at St. Michael the Arch Angel Catholic Church in Guimaras. The service was conducted entirely in the local language, Hilgaynon, and I had no frickin' idea what pastor was saying. I know just a few phrases and words of the language, but even if I had a good grasp of it, our local priest talks so fast that I fear he is either on speed or drinks way too much coffee. My asawa softly sobbed intermittently as the ever present pregnant dog roamed the altar area near Father. The Mass was over in just 35 minutes, and it closed with Communion which my wife did not partake of today. Guess she was feeling sinful. I never take it.
Jeepneys brought the mourners to the Memorial cemetery just past the Trappist Monastery where my wife's aunt was to be buried, and Tita's coffin was loaded into the ground as is the practice in much of the United States. In the other cemeteries I had attended previously in the Philippines the burial vaults were above ground with units stacked one on top of each other. Workers clad in green uniforms promptly lowered the coffin into the ground, and the group of grievers were taken back by jeepney to Emma and her husband's Danet's spacious home in Guimaras. A pot of burning charcoal stood sentry outside the residence to ward off evil spirits.
One cow and two pigs were sacrificed for the huge throng of relatives and friends that were gathered. There was an abundance of food for the feast along with bottles of Coca Cola and Sprite. After my wife and everyone fussed over me making sure I had plenty to eat, I was introduced to relatives that I had met before (but had forgotten; listen, I'm 59, and my asawa is related to half the people in Guimaras.) My wife then says to me: "Do you see Alex?" A middle-aged man and woman had just sat across from us several feet away. "Alex?" That's Alex?" I reply. I hear the man say something to my wife in Hilgaynon. All I understood was "500 pesos." But I'll wrap this up tomorrow as "I shake hands with a murderer."