Wakes

By: Madrileña de la Cerna November 04,2017 - 11:03 PM

DELA CERNA

Attending wakes is an interesting social activity. No matter what the period is, it is where friends who seldom meet gather. For families that rarely come together for a reunion, the wake of a dead relative gives them a chance to update of their respective families’ status. It is also where one could gather the latest and the rarest gossip. Even confrontations happen during the wakes. As a teenager, I witnessed confrontations during the wake of my grandfather. One was the encounter of mortal gang rivals who were friends of my relatives and the other was the heated argument of two close relatives that almost led to a fistfight.

The atmosphere of the wake depends on who the deceased was and the circumstances of his/her death. In November 2006, a few days before the fiesta of Carcar, a relative of mine who was referred to as the “matriarch” of the gay community passed away and his wake ran for four days. It was a wake full of laughter because the people who practically ran the wake were gays from the mananabtan to the food servers.

On the evening of the wake that I attended, almost everybody was in costume and fully made up. Most of those who attended the wake came from the show of the “Gays’ Night” at the town plaza because the gay community has been given one night of the series of entertainment for the forthcoming fiesta. It was a “riot” as each gave hilarious memories of the deceased in colorful language and no one was vulgar. I did not attend the funeral as I had classes in the city, but I was told that the funeral was as animated as the wake.

The most memorable wake I attended was that of the late Domingo “Minggoy” Lopez in 1979 at the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes in Junquera which was slightly damaged by a fire that razed the area. Before his death, Minggoy composed the music for his funeral and stressed that when he dies everyone should be happy and that no one should be sad. It was indeed followed; for during the wake of Minggoy Lopez, the second floor of the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes was like a theatre where stage and radio personalities of Cebu, singers, actors, writers, magbabalak, artists, dancers and musicians came in droves to pay tribute to Cebu’s music man.

As each guest arrived, he/she would sing solo or joined in with a chorus, another would just deliver a dramatic and tearful balak, others would dance to the tune of Minggoy’s music, still others would rather render dramatic monologues or reenact scenes from popular Cebuano plays where Minggoy composed the music. I remember very well the late Inday Nita Cortes-Daluz who made a dramatic entrance and did a touching dramatic monologue which was joined in by a chorus that burst into singing Minggoy’s popular songs. I don’t remember how many days the wake of Minggoy was, but every night, there was a different set of performers. It was as Minggoy wished.

* * *

Yolanda Sanson-Oporto was one of the most dynamic women I’ve met in my experience working with the UP Alumni Association Cebu Chapter. Her passing away last week is a great loss to the UP Alumni Association Cebu Chapter which will celebrate its centennial in 2020, just three years away.

Yoly Oporto, as she was fondly called, was one of the prime movers of the UP Alumni who gave rise to the establishment of the Junior College which was the old name of UP Cebu on May 3, 1918. Since its establishment, UP Cebu had been threatened with closure several times but was never done because of the mobilization of the UP alumni in Cebu where Yoly was among its leaders. UP Cebu was closed in 1950 but was reopened in 1963 thanks to the constant lobbying of the alumni.

Yoly always brought a camera with her because she loved to document activities and she accumulated heaps of photographs on the alumni activities and of UP Cebu.

She was a woman full of life, and I never missed her presence in every activity of the alumni association despite a hectic schedule juggling taking care of a big family to administrative work as she was the dean of the College of Pharmacy of the University of the Visayas for several years.

She practically knew everybody and she could narrate every event that happened in the early years of UP Cebu. She was a gracious woman who made anybody who happens to be with her feel comfortable. Even in her senior years, she carried herself well even in photographs and taught us her younger generation how to age gracefully.

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