Filipino Funeral Tradition: A Palamunin Culture

Just recently my mother passed away because of sickness, and currently I am broke and highly in debt and needs a bit of financial assistance. Because of this incident I have noticed lots of flaws on our culture.

They say Filipinos are family oriented people, intact and ready to help each other. It may be true, but actually it isn't. Its the other way around, Instead of helping us ease our pain and suffering these some people are making it worse and to top it all, their old tradition and belief is making me crazy. 

Because I live in a small town, it is compulsory to follow all those traditions and belief, if you don't they will scare you with curses and bad luck, so I have no choice but to follow even its against my will.

Here are some I have experienced during those times.

1. They have no respect for the dead and its family

Filipino Funeral Tradition: A Palamunin Culture
I have no knowledge on preparing a burial or funeral but I know whats important, a solemn mourning, a respect to the dead and its family, and paying tribute to a lost friend or family member which is I didn't see during our mothers funeral. Besides those lost factors, the most annoying attitude of Filipinos when attending a funeral is that they have no respect to the dead or its family. Here are some of the things I noticed.
  • Gambling. I don't like gambling, and I don't gamble myself. In a Filipino funeral, it is common to have people gambling and I don't know why. Because of gambling the essence of mourning, and prayers to the dead are lost. These people attends a funeral just to make money out of gambling and I can't do a thing about it because its the norm, but for me its bullshit. Gambling should be held on a casino.
  • Yelling and laughing. I can't blame people who laughs in a funeral but for me it shows disrespect to its family members. Its an insult to those who mourn seriously and a distraction to a suppose to be quiet and important moment for the family members.
  • Just there for the snacks and coffee. When there is gambling, there should be snacks and coffee for the gamblers, and you should serve them like on a fast food restaurant, treat them like a VIP even you don't know them.

2. Too much spending 

When you lost someone, it is understandable that you have problems financialy and if you are a sincere person you shouldn't advice on spending too much. But here, its the other way around. People around you always talks about money, what to buy, this and that. They want you to feed everyone for the next 9 days or more. During those times I spent almost 2 thousand pesos each day just to buy those things they thought necessary on a funeral. Their advice didn't help, it didn't ease my pain and it made me broke financialy. 

3. The Palamunins

On a traditional Filipino ocassion, it isn't complete without the "palamunins", these are people who just wants free food and drinks at your expense. They don't care about the ocassion, they just want something that is free. Because of these "palamunins" we spent more than 10 thousand pesos on foods, coffee and drinks alone. And on the 9th day it is required to buy a pig worth at least 5 thousand pesos, in other words the 9th day should be a feast. Other families spends more than 10 thousand pesos on pork alone. I ask one of the elders that, what if we will not held a feast on the 9th day, he just said "it is a shameful act not to celebrate on the 9th day" those words annoys me because you just lost a member of your family and now you are required to have feast. What does exactly are we doing, mourning then celebrating?

4. Un practical superstitious beliefs

In our towns culture, there are supersitious beliefs that makes me crazy mainly because it is unpractical and health hazardous.
  • Cutting your nails are prohibited. Personally, I don't like my nails to be long and I don't know why it is prohibited.
  • Personal grooming is strictly prohibited. You need to look like shit when you have a dead family member.
  • You need to keep a nail of a dead person and hide it forever in your home. I say this one is really bullshit, I will not keep a decaying matter in my home because it is dangerous to our health and could lead to a spread of virus. Its like keeping a dead rat on your closet.
  • 9th day is always feast day. I don't like this idea, why should we celebrate when someone is dead?

5. Outsiders are a threat to security

I remember many incidents of shooting and killing during a funeral. The worst incident I happen to know was in Samar where a drunk guy just suddenly appear on a funeral and start stabbing everyone he sees. Because a traditional pinoy funeral is open to everyone, it is very prone to uninvited dangerous people. During our mother's funeral, an outsider just yelled and threatened my brother and sisters, he was just lucky I didn't see him or else I will break his neck. 

Despite my disgust on some of these traditions, I followed most of them because I don't want to make a scene. I keep my calm and do everything exactly as they say. Even though I completed them all, instead of making me feel better, I felt very tired, weak, sick and very sad. I didn't have time to make a tribute to my mother because I was so busy entertaining, running around, buying things, doing some paper works. I was planning a video presentation for her but I was too tired and my brain is like a vehicle running on an empty gas tank, I can't think clearly because they keep dictating me what to do. Instead of doing something to remember her, I was so busy pleasing people that I don't personally know.

But even though there are things that I don't like during her funeral, there are few people that helped our family emotionally and financially. I also like to give thanks to those who helped even without asking. They are the few that really keep the spirit of giving tribute to a person who passes away.

Last note: These are just opinions and these traditions does not apply to all Filipinos. I don't blame people if they are not the way they should be. Beliefs and culture are in their system and its very hard to change them especially if its the life they have been doing since they were a child. It just makes me sad why a lot of people are following a tradition without asking why they should do it. 

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