My grandparents from my mom's side were buried in the town of Murcia while my grandmother from my dad's side were buried in the town of Moises Padilla. Every November 1, early at around six in the morning, the entire family is already cruising down the sugarcane fenced Negros highways in our small van full of pre-arranged flowers shipped all the way from Baguio(Yes, all the way from Baguio!).
My mom's hometown is always the first stop because of its nearness to our house in Bacolod which is a smooth twenty minute ride away. Our first destination is the Murcia Public Cemetery where my Lolo Miguel and Lola Ana are buried. After lighting candles, offering flowers and reciting prayers in front of the graves of my grandparents, our family would often go around the town exploring its other attractions.
One of the seven waterfalls in Mambukal Mountain Resort
The quiet town of Murcia located at the foot of the majestic Mt. Kanlaon specifically its eastern side boasts of the famous Mambukal Mountain Resort with its seven grand waterfalls, Negros fruit bat sanctuaries and hot sulfur springs. Although we would often spend only three hours going around the second class municipality, we never fail to visit many of its wonderful attractions such as the Mambukal Mountain Resort.
Mambukal Mountain Resort
My mom also never misses to visit the public market where she buys mouthwatering muasi or palitaw in Filipino covered in muscovado or raw sugar and sesame seeds. Me and my sisters would indulge on this treat inside our van until we all feel bloated. Not only do we become gluttons with the Negrense kakanin but also with the more common roasted peanuts and banana cue oozing with crispy caramelized sugar paired with ice cold Coke.
Sulfur Spring at Mambukal Resort, Murcia, Negros Occidental
After spending some time in Murcia, my dad would drive our van to a complete U-turn as we head south to his sleepy hometown of Moises Padilla more commonly called by the locals with its Spanish pueblo name Magallon. The drive to the fifth class municipality would take more than two hours drive. However one's journey would often feel like a breeze after passing through an amusing view of the vast sugarcane fields, railroad tracks once passed through by steam locomotives on their way to the sugar central and a majestic southern view of Kanlaon volcano.
Mt. Kanlaon view at Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental
At around an hour before lunch, our family van would arrive at the Magallon Public Cemetery giving us enough time to pay respects to my Lola Remedios' grave. (My Lolo Jesus is buried in Oton,Iloilo that is why we don't visit his grave often) Aside from visiting the grave of my grandmother, countless other dead relatives graves whom I can hardly remember the names were also visited by my family. I would remember visiting more than a dozen graves because my father said that almost all of the people in one side of the three hectare cemetery were all my relatives.
Map of Moises Padilla, Neg. Occ.
The heat of the midday sun added to more than three hours of excruciating travel would often make us all feel hungry. This will lead our family to our ancestral house in Magallon where we would feast in Mama Yoyo's famous cansi or linaga or popularly known as bulalo in Tagalog stewed with unripe jackfruit slices and spiced up with batuan as the local pampaasim similar to sampaloc or kamias to the Tagalogs. Mama Yoyo, my aunt who takes care of the house in Magallon, also prepares local rice-based kakanin such as bayi-bayi, suman latik and sundol's sinfully sweet taste caters to our Negrense tastebuds. Every gastronome will definitely be delighted with the sumptuous feast being prepared every Tigkalalag.
Mama Yoyo's special suman latik
My dad's hometown Magallon, famous as the livestock capital of the province with its animal auction stockyard where cattle, chicken, goats and pigs are auctioned, is one of the most unforgettable places for me. This is the place where me and my siblings would spend a few hours in the afternoon after visiting the cemetery. Bathing in the nearby Binalbagan River or loitering around the vast expanse of our family compound was our common past time. Rowdy kids as we are, me and my sisters would play hide and seek or climb mango and rambutan trees that abound in the area.
Mt. Kanlaon view in our backyard
All Souls Day will always be memorable for me and my family. Tigkalalag every November 1 may not only be a celebration for departed souls but also for the living souls who spend many treasured moments with their loved ones during this holiday.
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