Tumba Tumba: Celebrating All Saints’ Day

I was supposed to publish this entry yesterday but we lost our internet connection. So yeah, it’s late but it’s still a good read!


In my hometown, there’s this tradition called Tumba Tumba that we do during All Saint’s Day. We light up candles all around our house but only on the outside. We cover the perimeter which encompasses the gardens, garage, and our little walkways. Since we live in a compound, it usually takes us up to a hundred candles to cover everything. I don’t know if this tradition is also being kept in other parts of the country but for my hometown and its neighbours, almost everyone does it. On our way home from the cemetery, there are only a few houses without lit candles.


When I was a kid, I believed that during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is the time when all ghosts come out from “the other side”. Maybe they have unfinished business or maybe they just want to linger on Earth for a little while longer but the point is that they come out so they can haunt or visit anyone. Doing the Tumba Tumba tradition is a way to get rid of them. It’s supposed to act as a barrier so that the souls can’t enter your property and maybe cause a ruckus (what, poltergeist?!) or worse…scare you in your bed. Ghosts are mean and cruel (besides being scary) ….is what I’ve always believed when I was little.

Now that I’m older and have slightly understood all those “unfinished business” type of horror movies, I’ve come to accept the whole soul-ghost concept. I’d like to think of them as messengers who will only visit people they truly care about (or have an atraso with). I’m happy to say I do not have any relationships with dead people so far and hopefully for ever.

Yesterday, I asked one of my titas about the real meaning of Tumba Tumba. She told me that it is a sign of respect for the dead. Since we don’t know what has happened during the olden times (pre-colonial and Spanish era) on our land, it’s best to show respect to the souls that have lived there. In this way, no harm can be brought about to us. They are what you call our bantay (guardian).


The point being is that I used to think we do it to ward of all ghosts. Instead, we do it to somewhat communicate with them and show them the respect they deserve–which is truly what All Saints and All Souls Day is about.

Because of our busy lives filled with constant change, we can sometimes forget the blessings God has given us, mainly his gift of life. And remembering our dearly beloved ones and others who have passed away is something we must not take for granted. Even for this short period of time, we must do our part in giving them our respect instead of thinking about ways to relax and be free from the usual routines of our lives. It might seem mundane but it is important and we must not let our care get away. What if souls are alone on “the other side” (yes, this is in reference to the Vampire Diaries latest episode)? Life may be hard for us but at least we have people to share it with, you know? And even if that theory of mine is not true, does it really hurt having to spend 24-48 (or even a few hours on each day) hours paying our respects not only to the souls but also to Mr. Almighty One up there, our Father? You may call it cheesy or outdated, but I am a firm believer of tradition and my religion. I will always believe that there is a higher one up there who is looking out for us.


I didn’t mean to let all of my deep realizations so soon. It just came out naturally and well, I was afraid all my sudden coherence of words would pass away so I had to write them at once. Also, I didn’t get to spend this day with my family last year since we were out of the country then. Thus, it was nice getting to do it again after a long time. Anyway, I have more stories to tell about Tumba Tumba, my country, and the surprising things I saw when we went to the cemetery.


One more thing I liked about Tumba Tumba besides showing respect and it being a tradition, is that I get to do it with family. My cousins and I are the ones who usually set them all up. You see, I’m one of the “older ones” in my generation so it’s really fun seeing all my younger cousins being all hyper and giddy (because they get to play with fiiireee)! It’s a nice time to bond with the family because delicious food is served, horror stories are shared, and my little cousins often display their talents (such as reciting poems, taking cute pictures, and playing Empires and Allies on Facebook haha). I don’t get to see them so I treasure these moments. How I wish I haven’t taken all these for granted when I was little!


I’m not sure if other countries do this as well but I’m glad we have this tradition, even if it might only be in Pangasinan. It’s unique and shows how superstitious, believing, and religious our culture is. It also shows how our society can still be intact and preserved. Religion is indeed a very dominant and controlling aspect of our lives–which some treat as inhibitory whereas some see as uplifting (including me).


Even though society is dictated by different factors, it is constantly evolving. Yes, it is inevitable. However, it can be confusing and misleading often, too. During our visit to the cemetery on my Grandmother’s side, we passed by some strange circumstances.


In provincial cemeteries, it can get pretty jampacked. Tombs are laid on top of each other and there are some epitaphs on the ground. It’s sad because there’s little space on the cemetery so even tiny spaces and pathways (boo) were used to.


We passed by one tomb with pictures and music being played. It was famous! Everyone who passed were craning their necks to take a look. Apparently, the lady passed away due to an airplane crash and I guess this is her family’s way of remembering her. It was sweet.


While walking towards the entrance of the cemetery, we passed by a pink coffin photobooth. The coffin was positioned upright and the hinged portion (upper/ventral) with a window on the upper part so that you can see your face while you’re being photographed. It was super funny and yet demeaning in a way. There was also a mini food court where you can buy everything! From popcorns to devil headbands, you name it! Sometimes, I think if this day was supposed to celebrate fiesta instead.


While we were on our way to the car, a group of teenagers went to my tita and serenaded her. They were asking for donations for something something. My tita was kind enough to give them money but I think it was weird for them just going around the neighborhood and slightly harassing strangers. And on November 1! I dunno, it’s just weird.


front gardenat the garagemy cousin having fun

Hope you had a great Halloween and a blessed All Saints’ Day!

So there you go! I just finished my longest blog post to date! I hope I didn’t bore you too much. I’ve been reading my previous posts and I think they lacked uhhh..depth. Hahahaha. So I decided to make a more detailed post with some of my more detailed thoughts!


4 thoughts on “Tumba Tumba: Celebrating All Saints’ Day

  1. I never thought that a word like “ventral” will be used in a post like this. Hahaha! Wala kaming ganyan sa Bulacan, or at least sa town namin. Hihi. Ang ganda nung tradition nyo! 😀

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