The Dead & The Dying

There is they say, two immutable things in life: Death & Taxes. Undoubtedly I’ve cheated both in my life. You can only cheat death so many times though, it will catch up to you. Such was the case with one of our neighbors here in the province.

Coffin Inside The Home

Coffin Inside The Home

Way too much to drink and playing in the road at night is a sure way to meet with your maker.

I have seen several funeral processions take place here in Sara. The long train of motorcycles following the El Camino/Herse is impossible to miss. The parade of people all head to the church for the funeral service and then they follow after to the grave site. Nothing out of the ordinary when compared to the American custom but the procedure prior to the burial is where I find a stark contrast to the few funerals I’ve known.

Funeral Train

Funeral Train

My first introduction to the funeral procedures here in the Philippines was also my first night here in Sara. Momma & Papa were trying their best in broken English to explain where they wanted to go and I could tell that Momma was hesitant to take me. Despite the language barrier, I was able to interpret that they wanted to

Paupers Grave

Paupers Grave

play cards but it was the other bit of English they used that confused me. Papa pointed to a house in the distance and said, “I die, I die.” Weird, I thought silently to myself – Jennifer never told me her father was sick.

We traveled to the house in the distance and then I realized what they were trying to explain to me: it was a wake. It is customary here to keep the body on display in the family home for up to thirty days. During that time, there will be large amounts of food (excluding chicken which is taboo at wakes) and a lot of gambling. It is undoubtedly a very strange custom (by Western standards). I wanted to take pictures that first night but I couldn’t get up the nerve to ask permission. It would have, in my opinion, been disrespectful to the family and potentially put salt into the wound of their souls.

Jennifer In The Shadows

Jennifer In The Shadows

When our neighbor passed away, the family asked me to take photos of the procession as a memorial. To say I lept at the opportunity may be an understatement. How often do you get free license to run around a funeral and take pictures? And so this morning I headed out to the family nipa to photograph the coffin, the gathering of the friends and ultimately the funeral itself. Like all funerals, it was a sad event. Though I barely knew the man, I felt the family’s grief with every click of my shutter.

I’d consider this the first ‘event’ that I’ve had to photo shoot and I learned a lot in the process. Trying to stay ahead of the coffin to take memorable pictures was often a challenge. Photographers definitely have their work cut out for them. I’ve somewhat mastered the art of single shot portraits in various settings but events involving movement are a bit more challenging. None the less, some quality photos were taken and I hope the family has a good remembrance by them.

Having enjoyed the photography experience, I none the less hope it’s the last funeral I shoot. They’re sad occasions and you can’t help but feel pain standing in front of the grieving relatives;

A Filipino Dusk

A Filipino Dusk

trying to capture the moment without infringing upon the grieving process is awkward and difficult, to say the least, but I’m glad to say I think I pulled it off. I also got a few good pics of downtown Sara. I’ll have them all posted soon in the usual place.

Best wishes to all. Stay healthy and don’t play in the street.

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