By Hermo Pagtakhan
EDMONTON – Dubbed as “UNDAS 2018” the Edmonton Filipino Community celebrated UNDAS (TODOS LOS SANTOS or ALL SAINTS/ALL-SOULS DAY) last November 1, 2018 at Westlawn Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home and last November 3, 2018 at Evergreen Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home. More than 200 Edmonton Filipino Community members and friends attended at both Locations and witnessed Filipino Priest Rev. Fr. JOSELITO CANTAL preside over the Memorial services.
In Evergreen, Liturgical and Memorial Services were held and the traditional Blessing of the FILIPINO GARDEN (HIMLAYANG FILIPINO), the MEMORIAL BOOK OF THE DEARLY DEPARTED and the “EXPRESSION OF THOUGHTS & LOVE for our Dearly Departed (a novel concept started in 2015).
When interviewed and asked what prompted him to revive the UNDAS Tradition in Edmonton, Event Organizer HERMO T. PAGTAKHAN, Family Services Director with ARBOR MEMORIAL at EVERGREEN, explained:
“UNDAS (or TODOS LOS SANTOS or ALL SAINTS DAY) is the Third biggest and most celebrated Philippine national holiday after Christmas and Holy Week/Easter. Christian Filipinos customarily remember, honor, and pay respect to the dearly departed on All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2). The grave sites are cleaned, visited, and adorned by family members, relatives and friends on the eve of November 1, to stay at the cemetery, to light candles, to pray, to lay flowers, and bring food for the consumption of the attendees.
The UNDAS Tradition is one of the cultural anchors helping the Filipinos define their national character. It is a durable venue for Filipino cultures and expressions and is a symbol of Filipino sense of community. No matter in what corner of the world we may be, we remain truly Filipino”. We Filipinos uniquely celebrate UNDAS in the sense that “UNDAS is the only occasion where the burial ground ceases to be the symbol of grief, as all sorrows are banished from the mind of the living, while enjoying the company of the dead, in a picnic like setting.” Borrowing a Quote from U.P. Law Classmate the Hon. (Philippine Judge) Ray Alan T. Drilon).
“Let’s face it, as much as we would want to, most of us Filipinos residing or working overseas (including those in Canada) are unable to go back to the Philippines every year to honour our Dearly Departed. A lot of our Filipino “Kababayans” here in Edmonton have been asking me through the years WHY We as a Community DO NOT Celebrate here in Edmonton a very important and significant Philippine National and Religious Holiday. So I thought our Community should revive our own UNDAS celebration this year in Edmonton. In short, I thought of reviving the UNDAS Tradition to afford our Kababayans the opportunity to celebrate All Saints Day in remembrance of our Dearly Departed whether buried in Edmonton or elsewhere.”
I also wish to mention and announce at this juncture that EVERGREEN MEMORIAL GARDEN was generous enough to donate and dedicate a Spot and erected a Rock Memorial Shrine in honour of the Filipino Community in Edmonton which we named “HIMLAYANG FILIPINO” (Filipino Garden).
NOW, The Edmonton Filipino Community has a FOCAL POINT (“HIMLAYANG FILIPINO/FILIPINO GARDEN) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where they can VISIT, OFFER FLOWERS, PAY RESPECT, PRAY and REMEMBER their Dearly Departed irrespective of where they are buried and lay in rest. For this I would like to thank EVERGREEN MEMORIAL GARDENS, EVERGREEN FUNERAL HOMES and EVERGREEN PROPERTY Staff for their Valuable Support and making My Dream of having a FOCAL POINT for the FILIPINO COMMUNITY IN EDMONTON a REALITY!
MY DEAR KABABAYANS, the HIMLAYANG FILIPINO (FILIPINO GARDEN) Memorial Marker is NOT meant just for Families who have their Dearly Departed at EVERGREEN. The HIMLAYANG FILIPINO Memorial was put up in Honour of the EDMONTON FILIPINO COMMUNITY and to provide Us with a Solemn FOCAL POINT for our Dearly Departed to honour them and celebrate All Saints Day and Special Occasions such as MOTHER’S DAY, FATHER’S DAY, REMEMBRANCE DAY etc. NOW, The Edmonton Filipino Community has a FOCAL POINT where WE can VISIT, LIGHT A CANDLE, OFFER FLOWERS, PAY RESPECT, PRAY and REMEMBER OUR Dearly Departed irrespective of where they are buried and lay in rest.
True to my initial Concept, we made sure the whole Edmonton Filipino community including the various community organizations were involved in the Celebration. We at EVERGREEN Memorial Gardens just provided the Place (Our Chapel and Reception Centre) to hold the Event, as well as, a Focal Point in the HIMLAYANG .”
The UNDAS Event started with Mrs. LILIA BONIFACIO leading the Community Prayers for the Dearly Departed. This was immediately followed by the Celebration of the Liturgical and Memorial Services officiated by Fr. CANTAL which included Holy Scripture Readings by Ms. MARJORI CARMONA NEWMAN and Mrs. LOIDA LUMANLAN, Prayers of the Faithful led by MR. LITO VELASCO, Ceremonial Lighting of the Memorial Candles by Mr. JUN ANGELES, Mrs. THELMA ARAJA and Mrs. ELOISA LAU and the Blessing of the MEMORIAL BOOK OF THE DEARLY DEPARTED and the SPECIAL THOUGHTS & EXPRESSION OF LOVE FOR OUR DEARLY DEPARTED. The FANTASTIC COUPLES IN HARMONY CHOIR led the Singing at the Chapel. THE AMAZING KORO FILIPINO and TALENTED EMMA CANONIGO on Sax provided the Entertainment during the Reception.
The Highlight of the Celebration was the Blessing by Fr. CANTAL of the FILIPINO GARDEN HIMLAYANG FILIPINO and the interment of the Special Container of the SPECIAL THOUGHTS & EXPRESSION OF LOVE for the DEARLY DEPARTED.
The attendees were thereafter treated to a sumptuous Luncheon of Filipino food and delicacies complete with Lechon donated by Realtors LOIDA LUMANLAN of RE/MAX and NORA RAGADIO (also of KUYA ALLANS LECHON. PALABOK HOUSE (LYDIA JIMENEZ and EDDIE GONZALES) donated one extra large tray of Pancit and Rice, FAT JAKKS ASIAN DELIGHT (KIM & JOSIE YEE) donated another extra large tray of Pancit, TD CANADA TRUST (AMY LYNN SARINO) donated UBE & Cheese Buns and RON & ELOISA LAU donated the Pan de Sals (Filipino Bun).
Because of the Tremendous Success of this year’s UNDAS everybody is already looking forward this early to a much bigger UNDAS Celebration in 2019. HERMO PAGTAKHAN, wishes to heartily thank EVERGREEN MEMORIAL GARDENS & FUNERAL HOME, ALL THOSE WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE PRAYERS, LITURGY OF THE WORD, THE CHORAL GROUPS & ENTERTAINERS, OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS/FOOD DONORS, ALL OUR VOLUNTEERS AND ALL OF YOU WHO JOINED US HERE TODAY PHYSICALLY & IN SPIRIT TO CELEBRATE OUR FILIPINO UNDAS TRADITION. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR MAKING OUR UNDAS 2018 A REALITY & A SUCCESS AND SEE YOU AT OUR UNDAS 2019!!!