So my grandma died the same day as my birthday and over the long weekend, my brother and I went to La Union to join the rest of my relatives to finally rest her soul in peace. It was one burial I have never imagined; there's always a first time in everything and there I was, introduced to my many firsts:
1. First Palaka (Frog) dish - which was awesomely cooked.
2. First wake, the authentic probinsya way - complete with more than half of the townspeople playing cards and whatnot with a band playing old songs in the background. All of them conversing in words I couldn't comprehend. Drunk men that danced around bamboo poles and slept on muddy grounds; children busy playing bingo and women serving food every 5 minutes.
3. First burial - that was held the following day, one agonizingly scorching afternoon. The hearse, to our surprise, was followed by two singers (male and a female) that walked all the way from the church to the burial site under that maddening heat of the sun! They paraded I should say, a staggering 30 minutes or so of parade! I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not.
4. And lastly, before we left, we witnessed a ritual: My grandfather and all of his children walked around the perimeters of our land, then an old lady washed their heads one by one with a concoction of what looked like water and alak and after that, burned some of my late grandma's memorabilia and let the smoke that rose from the embers, wash over those who needed healing. It took a whole lot of faith and believing and lot more of burst out laughter.
We left that afternoon and every thing went back to where it was. The ride home took longer than usual.