By Anjo Bagaoisan
While darkness and drizzle covered most of the Manila South Cemetery in the wee hours of All Saints’ Day, these didn’t dampen the spirits of the few people who chose to brave the rains and spend the night beside one grave there.
Under a fold-out tent, a group of more than a dozen teenagers laughed sharing jokes and stories with the only two adults with them that night.
They were Mon and Ging Munar. Their only son, Joseph, also known as Rap-Rap, was in that grave.
It was their first “undas” without their son. But even before that, the couple’s hearts hardly left the cemetery.
Rap-Rap, 15, was killed on August 18 at a railroad crossing in Manila, where he was hit by a train he reportedly did not see coming from one of the tracks.
After he was buried eight days later, Rap-Rap’s parents went to the cemetery without fail every day.
Mon, a contractor, said they would stay beside Rap-Rap’s tomb for up to three hours either before or after Ging–who had a regular job–went to work.
“It was lonely without him, being our only child. There were no other young people in the house except him,” Mon said.
Rap-Rap’s Grade 10 classmates later began joining them at the cemetery to help lighten up the couple’s mood.
Mon said the kids made plans together to visit through their online group chats–which the parents were even added to.
It was through those chats Rap-Rap’s parents learned the group would be coming in droves during the holiday.
Ging had kept count. All Saints’ Day 2017 was Day 74 since her boy died.
Mon got a tent for the forecasted rains. Since they were already regular fixtures at that part of the cemetery, he informed people there they would be staying the night of Oct. 31.
“I already told them about it, since they might think these were just a bunch of rowdy kids out drinking,” he said.
First, Rap-Rap’s fellow sacristans at church around midnight showed up bringing food. Then his classmates stayed until morning.
The Munar relatives would join the couple the rest of Nov. 1, since the grave was also where other long-departed loved ones lay.
Even when the rains got worse and prevented many others from staying the night at the cemetery, Mon, Ging and Rap-Rap’s friends huddled between the other tombs and exchanged memories.
Mon is thinking of getting a second tent next year to accommodate all their visitors.
He finds it difficult to talk about how his son died. He said the teens knew how hurt they were, and yet it did not keep them from bringing smiles.
“They make us happy, because when we’re with them, it’s as if our son was with us joining in the fun,” he said.
It will be long before Mon and Ging come to terms with the loss of their son, but Rap-Rap’s friends are helping them find closure, one day at a time.