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“Kalag Kalag”

His Story
By Ka Bino Guerrero

I have been away from home since 1995; and lately, I would find myself homeward
bound at least 4-5 times a year.  
And one date that I would never miss being home  is November  1 and 2  in time for the Kalag-Kalag.

In my hometown in Tanjay, Nagros Oriental, we have our own version of “Trick or Treat.”

Nope, our sweets aren’t candies but sweet potatoes and other legumes such as taro, cassava and cardava banana. All are boiled.  

But one cannot just knock on the door to ask for the treats any time they want to. One has to wait after the prayer for the dead had been offered.

The above mentioned, plus other food and drinks are part of the Halad (Offering). Halad is an assemblage of food, drink and even cigar that were among the favorite of our dearly departed when they were still alive. Like my grandma, she liked Siok Tung now rebranded as Vino Kulafo (now you got a hint, as to where my name originated), so mama made sure that there is Kulafo in the halad. My dad loved San Miguel Beer and his brother Anejo Rum.  I’m not really sure who among my dead relatives chewed beetle nuts, but since it’s always present in the halad I am sure one of them loved it. Also in the halad is humba. Who doesn’t love humba, dinuguan, whole fried chicken, chicken soup, spaghetti? And the buffet is complete but no eating yet until the novena for the dead has been offered.

I don’t know when it started, but I am never at our own Halad. I am always at the house next door - at my Papa’s cousin and also my Godfather Papa Pong, and Mama On ( Policarpo and Lucina but when their first grandson  calls them Mama On, Papa Pong we all followed).

We never go to the cemetery on November 1, as this day is for the Halad. Almost the whole day is spent in preparation for the prayer for the dead which will be done by sundown.  Early morning we will be awaken not by the usual cockcrow but by the last cry of pigs being slaughtered for the celebration.

Breakfast is a sampling of the sweet potatoes and taro, while lunch time we will already have some meat from those unlucky pigs.

But the big feast is yet by sun down, but by late afternoon we are already full from sampling of the biko, puto, bingka, budbud,  tsokolate which are also part of the Halad.

And the moment we are all waiting for, we would start when Mama On after doing all the cooking and has taken her shower would call us to pray. 

We do the Novena “Para sa Mga Kalag  Sa Purgatorio”, and prayer for the dead that we have already memorized over the years. 

While Mama On is leading us to Prayer, Papa Pong would do his own ritual. He would start burning  incense and start calling all our dearly departed. He will go around the house with his incense,  and talks to our dearly departed.

At a certain part of Mama On’s prayer,  Papa Pong would invite our dead relative to partake of the halad.  And for GWD (Ghost With Disability) he will bring some food and toss it outside the house.

As soon as the nearly an hour of prayer is over, that is the time we can start eating.

Ohh the trick or treat part,  yeah, we dress up in our homemade costume and go around the neighborhood. Nah we don’t say “Trick or Treat” but rather  “Ayo Mangalag Me”  and we were given anything from the Halad table.

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