The atmosphere felt like it belonged to a school fair.

Minus of course the ferris wheel in the middle and the over-hyped Octopus, and the Kissing Booths.

Good Shepherd Memorial Park in San Fernando, Pampanga seemed to have been geared more for a fiesta than for funerals. There were food booths lined across the walkways, smoke was coming from both candles and food grills. Children were chasing each other, dodging graves both simple and ornate. Buko sherbet vendors were raking in the pesos, as everyone bough their relatives a bit of respite from the heat. Families were huddled over their respective deceased, with their lunches, banigs, and kakanin.

Many would complain that this was disrespectful to the dead. I don’t know about you, but my lolo (whose grave site we visited) would probably have loved it.

The entire plot of land set aside for the dead was brimming with life. Our family was part of it. We were making Christmas plans, making jokes, catching up on one another, bridging generation gaps before life – or death – burned that bridge. Lolo would have wanted that we continue living, continue loving another, and making lola happy. I think we did our job.

It was a reminder for me that we remember the dead so we can learn from them how to live more fully. Moments of silence and seasons of sadness must be undertaken, but they must make us more aware of how beautiful living is.

Death comes in degrees. Some of us are already hollow inside without even being six feet under. Days like these remind us that sometimes, we must simply, live.