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Why study (Filipino) popular art?
by Edilberto Alegre
BusinessWorld, 1 May 2002

Some have asked me why I bother with Pinoy pop art such as our movies, Max Surban, Yoyoy Villame, TV popular program? They are the hoary academicians of University of Philippines (UP) Diliman (Quezon City, Metro Manila), of course. And a few are architects in Cebu (Central Visayas) and other academicians there.

"Because they are our heritage too and probably say more about us than our copies of the seven arts of the West," I'd reply and refuse to go beyond that.

Their question manifests a haughtiness that should not be bothered with. They are not part of my small reading public obviously. Pinoy culture encompass all our products and actions and the distinction high art -- low art, literature in English -- literature in a Philippine language, music composed by a degree holder -- music composed ouido, say, are categories not made by culture analysts. High art, literature in English, or music composed by a UP College of Music graduate are also cultural expressions and are, therefore, legitimate concerns of cultural anthropology too.

They are studied amply by undergraduates, graduate students, scholars, and practicing art critics. They are also rewarded generously by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), our official cultural institution. And the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) continues to honor the Filipinos who excel in the seven arts of the West. Those who excel in the indigenous arts and crafts, such as kulintang music and abaca weaving, receive kudos and monetary award of a lesser degree. These manifest the hierarchy in the arts. Copying the west still pays.

The situation can change only by showing through force of logic and adamantine data that there is much to admire in not completely westernized Pinoy pop art. i.e. indigenized Western cultural borrowings. Examples abound: our movies, OPM, romance, novels, TV shows

Millions enjoy our pop art. Millions spend viewing, listening to or reading them. That should be valid enough reason to study Pinoy pop art. In contrast, the Pinoy version of Western art is enjoyed, viewed, listened to, or read by only a very minor trickle of our population. But they, the Pinoy copies of Western art, take a dominant position -- in our textbooks, in our mass media, in the eyes of our own government. Not because they are Pinoy, but because they are copies of the West.

That says a lot about our educational system, our mass media, and our government. What is common to these three is this: they are manned, managed, and operated by the ingliserong Pinoy, the Filipinos who are proficient in the English language. By the elite, in short.

The communication loop of the Pinoy version of the seven arts of the West consists of the artist as producer of art works which are "consumed" by the viewer-listener-reader appreciator. The artist is a product of an educational system which is biased toward the West. The consumer is also shaped by the same system. The middle person critic who explains, explicates, expounds and praises the art work derives his livelihood and reputation from the loop. The loop passes on their preferences to those outside of it via the schools, the media and the relevant government institutions which are also owned or managed or operated by the same socio-economic class, the rich inglisero.

The only way to counter this vicious, oppressive set-up without bloodshed is to present an alternative view that is acceptable, because it is logical and is based on field data, and therefore, incontrovertible. The viciousness derives from its spitefulness to anyone and anything which does not belong to the loop. It also stems from its erroneous reasoning: any art which is not Western or like the West's is inferior.

There are those who belong to the loop who go slumming outside of their vicious circle so they can entertain their kind about having gone "native", and, oh, how so very iba (different) the natives are! Some get their paper thesis or dissertation data from the natives and score pogi points for their promotion and prestige. Of course, after short, sporadic forays into the land of the natives they return to their lovely homes and lovely offices in which they have been ensconced. Such are the habits of class, so very difficult to break because they are so very good.

The said loop is oppressive since it bears down on the rest of our population and keeps the latter subservient by harshness and coercion, though the means to achieve this can be subtle and, therefore, appear to be neither harsh nor coercive. That elite has been in power for centuries and knows all the tricks to stay unchallenged.

To study pop art is thus, for me, an act of self-liberation. Unfortunately, I am an opsi -- math and my road to freedom started only 18 years ago when I boldly turned my back to the ways of the academe, where I was employed, and took the first steps to know who we are and what we are like.

I have never looked back.

The only equipment I had were those which I acquired in the academe -- traditional criticism, neo-criticism; structuralism, a bit of post-structuralism. Quite very Western apparatus.

However, I had an abiding passion for linguistics, the study of the laws which govern languages, since 1958 when I first enrolled in M.A. Comparative Literature in UP. It was my way to our culture. Language was what I had as data and for this there was no need to go to the field.


Using language as the starting point, let us examine our concept of time and its relation to art, pop or otherwise. How did we divide time? From the smallest to the biggest: araw or day (which we broke into, beginning from dawn -- madaling araw (dawn); umaga (morning); tanghali (noon); hapon (afternoon); takip-silim (evening); gabi (night); kahapon (yesterday); ngayon (now, today); bukas (tomorrow); buwan (month); taon (year). There are compound expressions for the day before yesterday (noong isang araw) and the day after tomorrow (bukas makalawa). These are time indicators though just like kahapon, ngayon, and bukas.

Time as a quantity are, strictly speaking, indicated by araw, buwan, and taon. A numeral or counter can specify the number of the days, months or years -- e.g. isang araw, dalawang buwan, tatlong taon (one day, two months, three years).  Or the length of time can be one-half (kalahati, kalahating buwan);  a fortnight or whole -- buo, buong araw, buong umaga, buong gabi --  meaning the whole day, the whole morning, the whole night, respectively.

Time as a quantity which can be measured to the tick of a second or minutes or hours is a Spanish introduction, as the words indicating them immediately shows: segundo, minuto, oras. Relo came from Spanish reloj. We also call the watch orasan, the suffix -an is a Pinoy construction. It was the Americans though who introduce wrist watch for that to the Spaniards is reloj de pulsera. Our term for it is riswats.

Our sense of clock time and the idea that time has to be or can be measured to the briefest second are borrowed.

The millions of Filipinos who do not punch time cards or do not have deadlines to meet simply ignore watches, clock time, and measurements of time. They are more numerous than the Filipinos who are tied to and enslaved by time machines.

Since time is a measurable quantity, in a linear manner an action has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Transferred to fiction, a narrative image of life, then the Western plot must have a defined beginning, middle, and end. Rising action, climax and denouement are logical aspects of time as a quantity or length, which is an expression of quantity, which moves in a linear manner from time1 to time2 time3 and so on.

American fiction is specially action-oriented. Action pushes the story forward. Overt action also depicts the character of the protagonist, of course. Western fiction is plot-oriented because the protagonist is unraveled in time. The unraveling requires conflict which leads to rising action, climax, and denouement or resolution (of the conflict).

This plot as a structure fits aptly for it rose from the Western concept of time. The problem of adaptation rises when we realize that that is valid to them, the Espaņol and the 'merkano, but not to us.  For we have a different concept of time. And must therefore have a different approach to or ideas about plot line and narrative structure.

The epitome of the action -- oriented Western narrative is the whodunit or detective story. That genre never quite took roots here.

The Rambo series is interesting but our hero is FPJ who's low-key in comparison. And always has a sidekick. Hindi siya nag-iisa (he is not alone).  Hero that FPJ is, he is never alone. There is Dencio Padilla who is forever loyal and a lady love.

There is the terrible aloneness of all the Western tragic heroes -- Oedipus, Macbeth, King Lear, Loman, the American salesman. They experience a fall. Rambo might be on a different trajectory. But they, as all Western heroes, are alone. Time is a linear path which they travel or traverse. A beginning, a middle, an end. Rising action, climax, denouement.

We have no such tragic heroes. No such terrible aloneness. FPJ, Juan Tamad, Dolphy. Unlike the Western heroes, our main protagonist is always connected -- to one other, a friend or a lady love; to several others -- parents, sibling, family. Not tragedy but comedy. Not rising action based on conflict but melodrama. Less height and less acute on angle but rolling hills and flatlands.

Look at their sentence constructions. An explicitly named subject and a predicate, an action word, and, if required, a recipient of the action e.g. "I love you." There's no other way to say this. In our case, "Mahal Kita": verb, pronoun. Where went "I"? Literally, these two words translate as "Love you" (and that is how we say it, "I love you"; the very Pinoy English of "Mahal kita").

The relationship comes first, mahal. Kita is the distinctive "exclusive dual", second person, plural number, nominative case, in many Philippine languages. It means "I-and-you (singular) only" and nobody else.

Still on relationship. "Kumain na ko. Kinain ko yong natira sa mesa." (I've eaten. I ate what was left on the table.) Kumain refers to who ate. Kinain to what was eaten. The infix (-um, -in) depends on whether the speaker is referring to himself as actor or the object of his action. Speaker-self, speaker-object. A verb for us reveals not so much who and action or who object of the action, but the what of the action. Relationship, in short.

Too, we are not conflict -- resolution driven. We shun away from confrontations. Put this relationship -- driven in the same linear time of the West and what would result is not tragedy but a comic, melodramatic story. In that time line (t-1, t2, t3) he'd seek not ako, the nominative case, first person, singular "I" but "I" in it's many relationships: Juan Tamad and the princess. FPJ and Dencio and a lady love or FPJ and a daughter like Judy Ann Santos, Dolphy and his family who resides in a "Home Along Da Riles" (home by the railroad tracks) -- ako in kita, tayo, and kami (tayo includes the person addressed; kami excludes the person addressed).

We borrowed the movie camera and we came out with Pinoy na Pinoy movies -- weak on the plot structure, abloom with deep and meaningful relationships even if there are bakbakan (fight) scenes. Emphasis on the relationships. With and through the movie camera we have been telling our own story.

So with our TV soap operas. So with our OPM. So with our romance novels.

It would be folly to demand Western standard on these very Pinoy pop arts. What we need is a canon of appreciation so we can "upgrade" our popular art to academic, aesthetic criticism. We direly need theories about ourselves so we can better appreciate our own art.

Our concept of time and our "I" -persona, of course, created and continues to create our own form of fiction, movies, TV soap operas. Our own art, which very unfortunately is dismissed as just merely pop by the inglisero critics. But in the end they don't matter. What they are there or not our own art will continue on.

Instead of rising action -- climax -- denouement we should graph our di-pagkakaunawaan misunderstanding and our tampuhan, for which there is no English word. For these are the stuff of our daily lives which are there already embodied and expressed in our popular art. It is in our popular art where we truly are.

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When institutions are breaking down: The family
by Edilberto Alegre
BusinessWorld Online Edition, 9 May 2002

My consciousness as a child was formed by the physical presence of my immediate family: my father, my mother, my maternal grandmother, and my older brother. I was born in November 1938. My father, a medical doctor, joined the guerillas of Mindoro (Southern Tagalog Region in southern Luzon) as soon as World War II broke out.

I was three. As he and his family were hunted by the Japanese we moved into the jungles of Mindoro and had to keep changing our residence. We were periodically on the run.

When the war ended I was of school age. We were inside the jungle for almost four years. We didn't have neighbors. We lived veritably the life of nomads. Occasionally we'd espy Mangyans, the generic term for the indigenous ethno-linguistic groups of the island, who were clad skimpily in bahag (loincloths), let their hair grow as long as it would, chewed betel, and kept their distance from us.

As we emerged out of the thickly forested mountains, I saw a gravel road and said: "Ang haba ng ilog na ito! (This is a very long river.)" I had mistaken the stone-and-gravel road for the dried up bottom of a river.

Less than a year after the war ended we returned to my mother's hometown, Victoria in the province of Tarlac (Central Luzon), and that's where I stayed until 1953 when I entered the University of the Philippines. The crucial seven years (1946-1953) of my childhood and early adulthood were spent in Victoria.

My childhood was Edenic. I spent it playing -- gamboling in the rain and wrestling in the dust and running in the wind. I could run out because I was secure -- my parents and grandmother and brother would always be there. I did not run out very far. The rule in Mindoro was we must always be within the easy hailing distance of my mother and grandmother. In Victoria we could rove a wider space. My older brother was always with me anyway.

The games children play have their seasons. They hew closely to the falling of the rain and the fruiting of the trees. We lived at the edge of the town, a barrio called Santa Lucia, to the west right after the poblacion. My youth there was defined by the trees in our orchard, the church property, a hectare of land behind the Catholic church where there were two tamarind trees, and farms only five minutes from our house.

The Eden of my childhood was suddenly rent by Death's visit. My only sibling died suddenly of leukemia. It was so swift. The first symptoms, which were akin to severe anemia, became apparent in late December 1951. On March 24, 1952 he died. He was only 15.

That was 50 years ago. After his death my life would never be the same again. Suddenly, I was a child no more. Something broke inside me and I would never be whole again. The terms of my life changed. I became an only child at 13. Sadness never left me. And the disbelief in permanence became, without my consciousness of it, an article of faith.

Perhaps, since then I have been trying to recover Eden. An impossibility really. Because once lost, Eden will never be again. Perhaps, too, all these years I have been looking for a modicum of permanence. That must be why I am in culture studies. Culture precedes us; we are born into it. And after we die it would still be there. It is surely more permanent than my childhood in the jungle of Mindoro and those innocent years in Sta. Lucia in Victoria,Tarlac.

Change is inevitable. I accept that. But the breaking down of institutions is not. The family of my childhood remained whole. They just died one by one -- Kuyang, my elder brother, then Mamang, my grandmother, then Itay, my father, and, finally, Inay, my mother.

Death took them and I am the only one left to remember.

Our parents' generation could boast of families that remained whole. None of my father's brothers' and sisters' broke up. In my generation remaining whole became problematic.

I have been a witness and participant in the breaking up of families. Mine has not been an exemplary life. That is why I keep going back to examine and re-examine the turns it took, the paths I chose.


Why has the family as an institution been breaking down? Mainly, I think, because its context has been changing. Let me just cite recent statistics. From 1990 to 1995 our population grew by an annual rate of 2.32%; from 1995-2000 by 2.36%. That translates to three babies every minute. For the past five years our number has been increasing by 1,700,000 every year. We are now 77,000,000.

When I was growing up in Victoria we were not even 20M. My weekly baon (allowance) was 10 centavos per week. The daily wage was less than 2 Philippine pesos (US$0.040 at PhP49.724=$1). Even the poor ate three times a day. The poorest of my playmates ate off the land: fish in the river, insects from the field and the trees, frogs from pools of water and chicken and pigs for special occasions. Their tables were never wanting for food. I know because I'd sometimes have meals with them in their houses.

Last year our Commission on Population (Popcom) reported that "15.3M Filipinos wake up every morning without food on the table." That number would be scandalous for any nation. In our case its 20% of our national population. One out of every five Filipinos do not eat breakfast because they do not have the money to buy it.

The Popcom estimates the poverty line by making a cash valuation of the basic food required by the Bureau of Nutrition and Food. Food threshold, it's termed, i.e. below that requirement one is malnourished. Last year 30,600,000 or 40% of the Filipinos were below that line. And it's increasing.

What is the situation? There is mounting pressure on the land and water food resources, which diminish continuously due to that pressure on it. Our arable land area is not increasing. The methods of harnessing it for food production are not improving. We have been importing rice for decades. Our waters are polluted. We do not catch enough fish to feed our people. Fish prices have been increasing relentlessly. The poor cannot even afford round scad -- galunggong -- which used to be called the poor man's fish during Cory's term.

Despite Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) and Pag-asa (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), the nation was prepared for neither Pinatubo nor El Niņo. As usual the government improvised as their aftermath kept embarrassing the concerned official agencies. The bigger and lasting calamity though is our membership with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Without reading all the provisions involved our government ratified our membership. We are just beginning to feel that impolitic decision of our government.

Population growth eats into whatever economic gains some families are able to achieve. Food is the first priority, of course. If this need cannot be met then health, education, housing suffer. The following generations are tied to penury.

To avert poverty many educated Filipinos seek employment abroad. Millions of them. For those who are married that means severe loneliness for the one who leaves and loneliness coupled with severe responsibility for the one left behind.

Flor Contemplacion's was not an extraordinary story. Nor Delia Maga's. Not the wife-mother portrayed by Vilma Santos in that film where her daughter was played by Claudine Barreto. Theirs is the ordinary tale of a Filipino overseas contract worker (OCW).

Millions of families must now have only one or a single parent. Millions! The sociology of our family system has been changing. These are only OCWs. There are many men too who stay abroad to work. The wife and children are left behind. That too is single parenthood and has as many problems as the other case -- the one where the wife and mother is the OCW.

Inside the country there is massive migration too which, as in the case of the OCWs, is impelled by poverty at home and the promise of a little alleviation in other places. Cebu in the Visayas and Iligan in Mindanao are only two such places. Manila must still attract a sizable number. The result has been the increase of slums and slum dwellers, a post-war phenomenon.

As an example let us look at our neighbors in Victoria, a married couple. The husband teaches in our local government high school. He receives a meager salary. The wife, a high school graduate, had no regular job. She became a domestic helper in Hong Kong. When she left both their daughters were not yet in Grade 1.

Now both daughters are college graduates. One is married and has one child. Both daughters do not live in Victoria. One works in Manila and the other in another town in Tarlac. When their mother finally returned her hair had become gray. Their father continues to teach in our local government high school.

There is an obvious lack of closeness between the daughters and their mother. They have a new house in another part of our town. It's a lonely place. A lot of bric-a-brac and family pictures on the walls. And the absence of voices. She hardly talks of her experiences in HK. While her own children were growing she was taking care of other children. The years of her absence from her family will never come back. She appears forlorn and defeated. She left her family to give them security. But what a sacrifice!

It is unabating poverty, too, which drives even the young female teenagers of our indigenous groups to because domestic helpers in the houses of middle class Visayans. Tinunda, a Manubu barangay leaders in Aroman, Carmen, North Cotabato (Northern Mindanao) put it harrowingly:

"The Visayan migrants, Sebuanos and Ilonggos, secured land titles to land which we have been tilling and living in for generations. We had to leave for they came with police and army guards.

"There's no employment here. And we have neither skills nor connections. So, we agree to our lovely young daughters becoming their maids. They earn a little and that's a big help for us.

"But they are abused, raped, made pregnant. They come back shamed."

Need we add more to this lament?


An aging Manila Court of First Instance judge and a law professor in many schools used to admonish his daughters: "When a wife-mother gives in to lust for another man except her husband, that's the end of her family." This was some 40 years ago and he was himself not aware that he was sexist.

Of course, when a man abandons his wife and children for another woman that's the end of his family. The children grow up without a father or with an absentee father at the most. Our laws and even traditions do not take up, much less focus, on the welfare of the children. Abandoned children are maimed for life, even if they grow up with one of their parents. Bitterness marks their adulthood.

Perhaps we should take a more sober and realistic view of broken marriages. At present we have only one law which allows legal dissolution of a marriage and it stipulates that there can only be one cause -- psychological incapacity of one or both parties at the time of their marriage. The psychological aspect is difficult to prove. A professional psychologist or, better yet, a psychiatrist should certify the incapacity.

So, when a marriage breaks up either or both spouses simply have "affairs," because the law makes it difficult to legalize the break-up of the marriage. The law has not deterred the affairs.

But there is an even more insidious pattern. The spouses of virtually broken marriages stay together -- for the sake of the children. The marriage is a charade. The spouses may be civil to each other -- again, for the sake of the children. There's neither sex nor warmth between the spouses but they have meals together at home, go out as a family, attend family functions together -- and all these, of course, are for the sake of the children.

The children do wise up to the situation. Those I know are psychologically battered in adulthood. How could their parents put up a show for so long? It's the insincerity which gnaws at their hearts.

Some marriages fail. That's a reality. Yet, besides the psychological incapacity law mentioned earlier, there is no legal remedy for broken marriages. It's about time that our laws caught up with social realities. With the breaking down of families there must be legal amelioration for all concerned -- the spouses and the children.

When institutions are breaking down there must be a safety net to assure that those involved are not punished twice, i.e. in this case, many families break up due to poverty and then are punished again for allowing poverty to break up the basic social unit. We still do not have a divorce law. Neither do we have one that outlines and stipulates clearly support for spouse and children. It is our law which is backward. It is our church which is mired in old paradigms which demand that a marriage succeed.

And if a marriage fails there can only be social adjustments since the legal statutes refuse to admit such a failure. And now is the opportuned time for charging the laws or, to be more precise, to enact ones fitting and appropriate to the situation.

The causes for the breakdown of families continue to exist. It's time the law became compassionate to those who had no experience of Eden.

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'Costumbres Chinas de la muerte'
by Bambi L. Harper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5/14/02

THE LAST instalment of Paz Yuchengco's observations of Chinese customs deals naturally with death. Preparations for the moment begin long before (when they begin to grow old) and people prepare the clothes they will wear for their wake. This is because the Chinese believe it is better to die clothed. The ceremonies commence on the deathbed. The first thing that is done is to cover all mirrors in the house with white cloth and the front door with a black cloth. The corpse is then placed in a casket and brought to the funeral home. The Chinese do not like having the wake in their homes. When the corpse of a father is in the funeral home, the eldest son goes in search of a good burial spot if the family has none. A good location in a cemetery is important for the family due to the belief that if a good spot cannot be found bad luck will befall the entire family. The son has to take into account the form, dimension and location of the terrain.

Once the son has found the ideal spot, he and the important older members of the family decide the date and the hour of the burial. The majority prefer to bury their dead after many days because the preparations and ceremonies are very difficult and complicated and need much time.

The entire family dons black immediately, including the men and the children. (Oddly enough this is only pertinent in the Philippines; in China the color of mourning is white or grey.)

An interesting aspect of this custom is that a stranger can immediately recognize the proximity of the relationship of those in mourning to the deceased. If dressed totally in black, they are blood relatives. If they are in black but with a red sash, they are either in laws or far relations. If a woman, it may be that she is a married daughter or a married niece or goddaughter. If a man, he may be a son-in-law, a nephew or a godson.

Children wearing a red sash are children of daughters. Married daughters cannot wear black after the funeral because this may bring bad luck to her in-laws. If they wish to continue in mourning they can wear grey, green, white or blue.

During bereavement female members are not allowed to wear make-up while the younger members such as children and grandchildren cannot shave nor have a haircut. They all have to wait 40 or a hundred days. The women cannot go visiting or beautify themselves for a hundred days or amuse themselves out of the house. Not even visit their parents before 40 days are up.

On the actual funeral day there is much confusion and lamentation especially among the women. The widow and her mother-in-law wail in high voices and their laments are like poetry reciting the life and deeds of the dead man. This custom is still practiced by women who spent their childhood in China and who have learned these lamentations. When the hour comes for the funeral the laments cease and all the family members gather around the coffin to pose for a photographer.

The fortune and prominence of the dead man are demonstrated in the funeral cortege since this is his final opportunity to do so. The Chinese seldom send flowers instead they send silk banners with consoling messages or pasted greetings. These banners are placed en route and form part of the cortege. The number of relatives he had is also evident in the funeral.

The order followed in the cortege is almost always the same. The photograph of the dead man on an open car leads the way. Aside from his photo there is a paper car representing the one he had when alive. Behind the funeral car is an employee bearing a red flag. (If the dead man is not prominent or poor this is not done.)

It carries characters in gold denoting his name, place of birth, age and the number of generations that precede him. Immediately behind the flag is a car occupied by a prominent and respected man who is or has been a government official. (In the Philippines usually this would be the Chinese ambassador or another high official of the embassy.) It is a great honor both for the official and the dead man. (The family of the deceased always has to send many expensive presents to this official after the funeral including a red envelope containing not less than a thousand pesos).

Cars with flags follow and if there are many these can delay the cortege. A band of musicians separate the first section from the second that is composed of the funeral car and the immediate family. The children have to walk to the cemetery. Neither the distance nor the weather is considered. The women may ride if they are tired but they have to at least walk half way. Those who walk are composed of the relatives, friends, good employees and godchildren. If the deceased is prominent in the community, schools and associations who have been his beneficiaries in the past send many delegations to join the cortege.

Once they reach the gates of the cemetery all the women with the exception of the widow and the children have to get down from the cars and walk with the rest to the site. The mother seldom attends the funeral especially if she is old.

At the start of the ceremony each son takes a handful of earth and places it inside the coffin. After it is closed they kneel and bow before the guests to thank them for their help and presence. The eldest son takes the photo of his father and returns home in the company of his mother, the widow. The two-year mourning period has begun. There are still many things to do and for a week or two the family cannot rest. Like the novenas of Filipinos, the Chinese have first a period of nine days when special ceremonies for the dead person are observed. During this time the women have to prepare a lot of food both for the deceased and his relatives. The banners are distributed among his female relations for them to make dresses. There are four important dates during the mourning period. The first is the completion of the 49 days, the next of the hundred days, completing a year and finally the two years that end the mourning. Little by little the mourners return to their normal lives. The men, after 49 days, may shave and have a haircut and wear white shirts even if their trousers must still be black. The women can wear silk dresses instead of Indian head, use some makeup and visit their family and friends.

After a hundred days the mourners can now amuse themselves and attend parties. If they go to weddings or birthday parties they must wear white, blue or gray. The ceremonies of the four periods depend largely on the religion of the family of the dead person. These are generally observed in the same manner.

The relatives of the dead have to remember the four important dates because the widow and her family are expected to bring food and fruits to the cemetery. If not, ill will on the part of his family may result.

Aside from food, the relatives must offer gold or silver paper money to the dead. This "money" is burned when the food is offered. The Chinese believe the dead don't have enough to eat in heaven which is the reason why the living have to continue sending offerings even after many years.

Upon the interment, a large amount of personal things of the dead person such as his clothes, shoes, his favorite chair, his mattress and slippers are burned. Other belongings that cannot be burned such as his house, cars, money, and suitcases are instead burned in effigy.

An interesting aspect of this custom is that the objects that entertained him in life such as his pipe, playing cards, mahjongg tiles and his books are believed to accompany him on his journey by being burned. The ceremony of burning these objects ends with the mourning period. In ensuing anniversaries only paper money is burned.

When a member of the family of the deceased whether male or female, wishes to marry, he or she must do so between the 49 and hundredth days of mourning. Otherwise, he or she will have to wait two years.

A bride who is in mourning has to remove her mourning when she marries. On the other hand, a bride who marries into a family in mourning cannot wear bright colours such as red, pink, yellow or burgundy. She however, is not obliged to don black; she may wear blue, white or green dresses. The customs and ceremonies of her wedding remain the same even if naturally these are more muted.

The first anniversary of the death is celebrated en grande (in grand manner). It may take place in his house or in the cemetery if the place is sufficiently large. All the women wear blue or grey instead of black and the men wear white. The rest of the ceremonies are the same as the previous ones.

The second anniversary marks the conclusion of the mourning period. The women and female children wear red and the men don vivid colors. The family of the deceased tenders a big feast and sends food and sweets to his relatives and friends.

This anniversary has aspects similar to those of a wedding or a birthday. For example, red is the color of the day: The house of the deceased is decorated with red curtains, the same as the bedroom of newlyweds. The same lamps used as those in a wedding are given to each married son or daughter. This signifies that happiness comes after the period of mourning. Parents and friends are gifted with the same type of foods and sweets previously given them but with the novelty of a red material to make a dress. As is the custom, eggs and noodles are omnipresent.

The children of the deceased have to put in their share for all the expenses in the two years of mourning. On succeeding anniversaries they will take turns taking care of the expenses. Some siblings use part of their inheritance to honor their departed relatives. They pay for the pantheon (that sometimes cost a hundred or two hundred million pesos), the salary of the caretaker, the anniversary celebrations, the fiestas, gifts, and many other things.

And thus, the Chinese customs herein described are transmitted from generation to generation. A young person may think that these lack feeling but are wary of discarding them for many reasons. They have learned enough from their parents to regard these customs as habits. Contact with their elders, intriguers and the gossipy, discourage them but they comply with tradition to avoid unpleasantness.

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