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Death and Burial Beliefs in The Philippines

A description of different beliefs Filipinos observed for the dead and the burial ceremonies.

     Filipinos have a different way of taking care of a deceased relative.  A lot of beliefs (call it superstitious if you must) observed from the day the person dies to the day he is buried.  In an average family, if the person is already dead, he is taken to the funeral parlor.  There, the embalming takes place usually after 24 hours.  After embalming and grooming the dead, he is taken back to the family’s residence where an area of the house is already decorated for the casket or coffin to be placed.  The dead is only buried once all the living members of the family is completed except for certain situations.  The  town people usually vigil and stay overnight playing different card games such as “tong-its” and playing mahjong.

1.  The dead is positioned in such a way that the feet faces the way going out of the house.  This is done to ensure the smooth exit of the spirit.

2.  On the first day the person died, a candle must be continuously lighted until the day the dead is buried.

3.  The remains of a used up candle must be removed first from the candle holder before placing a new candle.  Never put a new candle on top of a used one for this will cause continuous deaths in the family.  The candle must be used up until the flame dies by itself before it is replaced.  A short candle should not be blown off to be replaced.

4.  Sweeping using broom made of coconut tree leaves is not allowed.  Once the dead is inside the house, the dirt collected from sweeping must not be put outside the house.  Nobody must sweep under the coffin.

5.  Wearing of red clothes is prohibited in adults but children should wear only red.  This is done so that the spirit cannot see the young children and pull them to death with him.

6.  The family must not watch or listen to any form of entertainment. 


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