Death customs in the Philippines

Death in the Philippines is one of the most important occasions in family life, as attested to by a humorous statement that families have large reunions only during "Binyag, Kasal at Libing" ("Baptisms, Weddings and Burials/Funerals"). Once a Filipino dies, it is traditional to hold a wake. Deceased men are dressed in the traditional Barong Tagalog while women are dressed in either black dresses or in their best dress. Relatives that are closer to the deceased are customarily dressed in black, while women use black veils, similar to their Latin American counterparts. Caskets of Filipinos are often covered with glass, with the inner part of the lid containg ribbons with the names of the deceased person's immediate family. The casket has a crucifix between two candles (nowadays "candles" with electric bulbs) behind it. Flowers are often given in condolence to the family, with a message from the donor written on a ribbon attached to the flowers. Family members keep vigil, pray, eat, talk and socialize with guests. It is traditional, as with the other aspects of Philippine culture, to be hospitable to the guests; this is done by offering food and refreshments to those mourning with the family. After the death of a person, a nine-day period of having a novena of prayers and Masses offered up for the deceased is held, although the beginning of the Pasiyam varies, but usually ends the week after the death. Another period follows after death, the 40-day mourning period. Family members usually indicate their state of bereavement by wearing a small, black, rectangular plastic pin on their left breast or breast pocket area. A Mass is held at the end of this 40 day period. Common belief states that the soul goes to Heaven after these 40 days, following the belief that Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven after the said period of days. The 1st year death anniversary is also a bit significant, as well as the subsequent birth anniversaries of the deceased. Relatives from foreign lands would also come home to mourn for the deceased. Women are seen wearing black clothings and veils during a funeral. Widows are seen wearing black attires for the whole year.