I was taught that on this day, we remember our ancestors and that no matter where we are in life, we should never forget that "we" are here because of them.
Although I've lived in the US since I was 17, it's still vivid in my mind how my parents prepare for November 1st. Before this day, the men in the family would visit our relatives' graves, paint the headstones and make sure the surroundings are cleaned and cleared of weeds. Family and relatives would contribute to the paint cost and almost all the time, this results to a family squabble.
The evening before November 1st, our house would be filled with a permeating smell of sweet coconut and brown sugar that almost sticks to your skin and makes your mouth watery. Mom would busy herself preparing all sorts of food but the main dish would be the "inkiwar nga diket" (Ilokano sweet rice cakes made of coconut, brown sugar, and sweet rice). My sister would prepare the sweet rice while my dad busies himself with the whole process of coconut milk extraction: (1) peeling the husk; (2) breaking the tough shell; (3) grating the meat; and, (4) squeezing coconut milk. My older brother and I would be looking after the "uging" (coal) making sure it is kept going with the "anguyob" (Anyone know the English term for this one?). Well, I was, most of the time, the observer.
When the "inkiwar" is all cooked, my parents would make sure that an "atang" (offering) is made to our ancestors. My parents would set a plate full of "inkiwar," fruits, and a small glass of "arak" (liquor usually in the form of gin) or a cup of coffee. I was taught that on this day, we remember our ancestors and that no matter where we are in life, we should never forget that "we" are here because of them.
Then on November 1st, we would pile into my auntie's old ford fiera, with the younger ones sitting on their moms' or older sisters' lap, to visit our love ones' graves, light candles and pray for them. When we're at the cemetery, my parents, uncles and aunties would busily chat and catch up while we kids make up scary stories and play hide-and-seek.
To this day, I celebrate November 1st the Filipino-American way with costumes and giving out candies to the kids, rest be assured that I have "inkiwar" or some dish I can afford to prepare brewing in my kitchen and that a plateful of "atang" is there to honor and remember my ancestors. Because without them, I won't be here.
Farmer cat staring at my front door. I think this is her "trick or treat" stare.