All Souls’ Day and ghost employees
ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - November 2, 2006 - 12:00am
In the Philippines, when people knock at the door, they say "Tao Po", (it’s a person). The real meaning is, it is not a ghost, a kapre, a tikbalang or a manananggal.

Ghost stories are extensively talked about during this period on television, radio, newspapers and even in household and neighborhood chats. This tradition traces its roots to ancient times when the souls of the dead are believed to return to their homes for a meal with the living family. Many stories about ghosts became scarier as it evolved through time.

All Souls’ Day is observed to remember the souls of our departed loved ones and friends; although, in the Philippines, we observe this tradition on All Saints’ Day, in which all the Saints are remembered, both known and unknown. All Souls’ Day is dedicated to praying for our relatives who passed away, believing that the souls of the dead go through cleansing before they go to heaven. The living family are also reminded of their obligations to live holy lives with the belief that those destined for heaven will undergo purification.

Most local ghost stories stem from the belief that the souls (popularly known as ghosts) of the dead visit or sometimes scare their relatives because these relatives do not pray for the souls. Other stories say that the ghosts visit the living because they do not visit the tombs of the dead. Other stories say that unsettled ghosts wander and haunt the living to ask for prayers and that masses be dedicated for them so they can finally be allowed entry to the gates of heaven. The Catholics believe that through prayers, alms deeds and by the sacrifice of the Holy Mass, these souls can find peace.

Recently, a modern ghost story has swamped newscasts nationwide. Allegedly, there are ghosts who particularly haunt only government offices. Apparently these ghosts visit the living and partake of the "meal" prepared for them. But these ghosts love the meal prepared for them that they come twice a month instead of once a year. They seem to be nice and amiable instead of the stereotyped scary and gory ghosts whom we’ve heard about since childhood, because these government offices welcome them and expect their regular visits.

Could these ghosts need prayers and purification that they would need to visit the living as often as twice a month? Or maybe the people in these government offices have a fast lane to heaven that these ghosts would particularly choose to visit them?

Today is the day for the souls of the dead. We pray that they may finally be settled and cleansed and be allowed to enter heaven. Maybe this can also be a day for the "living ghosts". We pray that they may "awake" and finally take their real form and be visible for their worth to the government offices where they partake of its benefits. If our prayers could be powerful enough to exorcise these ghosts, then Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. and Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno need not hire the services of the Ghostbusters.

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