All Saints Day and the people we miss very badly
HIGH GROUND By William M. Esposo 2006-10-30
IT is rather odd that the day that was set aside for remembering the early Christian martyrs has now been associated with a social event—Halloween—that is characterized by witches, vampires and demonic objects. Even the very term of ‘Halloween’ is evolved from the word “hallow” which means sacred and yet the modern day association is with the world of the malevolent supernatural.

In the days when Christians were persecuted by the ancient Roman Empire, there were many who willingly embraced death rather than renounce their faith. When Christianity was finally a religion that was practiced above ground, a day was set aside to honor the martyrs and this gave birth to All Saints Day. Eventually Pope Gregory III changed and fixed the date to November 1, the date we now mark and celebrate.

The night before the commemoration of the day to honor the martyrs was then called ‘Hallows Eve’ and this was how Halloween came about. This eve was the time when Christians prepared their offerings to the martyrs. Some offered flowers; others offered fruits and so forth.

It was only in the 10th century when Abbot Odela of the Cluny Monastery added an All Souls Day to the Christian calendar, now celebrated on November 2, which was set aside for honoring those who were not classified as martyrs.

Filipinos being vain, we opted to remember and honor our dead during All Saints Day. We like to think that our dead kinfolks and friends are Saints and are in cloud 9 in heaven. Even known murderers, plunderers, rapists, crooks are honored by their kin on All Saints Day.

In the days of my youth, All Saints Day was a day that was met with mixed feelings. It was welcomed in the sense that it was a holiday and there were no classes. On the other hand, I dreaded the yearly routine of visiting our dead in the four cemeteries where they were scattered from north to south of Greater Manila, as the Metro area was then called.

Nowadays, because of the great number of visitors to the cemeteries and memorial parks and the horrible traffic jams this commemoration creates, many are inclined to visit their dear departed on days other than November 1st. Others start as early as today while some postpone it to All Souls Day.

As we are set to flock to the cemetery, columbary and memorial park to mark our annual tradition of remembering our dear departed, I cannot help but also remember the people that our country misses so very badly at this time when we are a nation adrift and in crisis. I cannot help but imagine how much of a support and enlightenment they would have been to us, the lost sheep wandering in the wilderness. We have no useful past our people remember and no inspiring future to look forward to.

We find ourselves today in this sad and deplorable situation owing mainly to our political leaders, the false shepherds who turned out to be the predators. The political leaders who we entrusted the task of bringing us to prosperity instead helped themselves to the national wealth and so we now find our nation living under a wide wealth gap that threatens to ignite a social volcano.

How we miss Ramon Magsaysay, he who fostered the idea that those who have less in life should have more in law. How our masses could use his genuine affection for them unlike the pretenders who pay lip service to the poor but end up exploiting them.

How we miss Jose W. Diokno who if he were alive today would have smashed the outright abuse and misuse of mechanisms of justice that are now being utilized to subvert the truth and cover up high crimes.

How we miss Rafael Ileto, the only general who did not approve of the declaration of martial law in 1972, and who if were still alive today would have called to task the mercenaries in the military who participated in the rape of democracy and the butchers who are engaged in the wanton killings of militant leaders.

How we miss the inspiring nationalism of Lorenzo Tanada, Carlos P. Garcia and Claro M. Recto, the prose and poetry of Soc Rodrigo and the moral fortitude of Jaime N. Ferrer. They would have been the cascading cool water to the desert that is our political landscape today. They epitomized love of country and fellow Filipinos which are so difficult to find these days, as difficult to find as the few good men who could have saved Sodom and Gomorrah.

How we miss Fr. Horacio de la Costa of the Society of Jesus, especially his literary works. He could provide enlightenment to the youth of today. Today’s youth cannot seem to associate with the realities that confront the country unlike the heroes that the Ateneo produced—Generals Gregorio del Pilar and Anacleto Enriquez who both embraced an early death and died for their country. The priorities of our youth today seem focused on spending their time in the malls. It is their future that is at stake in the issues that are raging these days and yet they are impervious to what will shape the hell that they will live in.

Indeed how we miss Jaime Cardinal Sin and his unstinting brand of moral leadership at this time when we yearn for a Moses to deliver us from the oppressive Pharaoh and bring us to the Promised Land. Like Pope Leo of old who drove Atilla the Hun from the gates of Rome, Cardinal Sin could have easily provided the guidance to the lost flock on how to resolve the moral and political crises hounding us.

How we miss Ninoy Aquino who if he were alive today would no doubt have led our country to the resolution of the crisis that has festered since ‘Hello Garci’ came into vogue. How we miss his heroism and readiness to give his life for his country, something we do not see in the opposition that we are stuck with today.

And how we miss the brave youth of the war years from 1941 to 1946—they who did not have to be called and volunteered to fight the invading Japanese armed forces in Bataan and later on as guerillas during World War II. Their individual exploits may never be known. But they died comforted by the thought that when their country needed their blood they were there to be counted.

How can a Filipino race that produced all these great men now find it so hard to produce even only a facsimile of such bold and daring heroes? More than the jackals who brought us to this abyss, the bigger tragedy that we suffer from today is the lack of quality, nobility and patriotism of this generation of Filipinos.

You may email William M. Esposo at:

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