Reflections on All Saints’ Day

By: Jose B. Maroma Jr.

ALL SAINTS Day, a day for communion in spirit with our departed loved ones, is also a day of reflection on valuable insights on life and death from those we have known, or from those we never met but whose timeless ideas have been passed on to us. I want to share from my personal collection certain views which may have lingered in our minds but which were better expressed by others.


Don Flavio Zaragoza Cano, dubbed the Prince of Visayan Poets, was an eminent son of Cabatuan. One day, after interment rites for a prominent official in the Cabatuan Roman Catholic Cemetery, I overheard Don Flavio musing to my father, “Life is like a game of ajedrez (chess). Look around you. This place holds the remains of people from different levels of society – the rich and the poor, the mighty and the lowly. When they were alive some stood above the others as distinguished by their titles and possessions. You open their tombs now and the bones all look alike, the badges of distinction gone. In the game of chess, pieces have varying ranks and degrees of influence when set up on the board. When the game is finished, however, the pieces are returned to the box and intermingle in anonymity.”


On one wall of the basketball gym of the  old YMCA building at Iznart St. there was painted in big letters this popular line from a poem by Grantland Rice, “ When the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,  He writes not that you won or lost but how you played the game.”


At the entrance to the Libingan ng Mga Bayani at Fort Bonifacio stands a black stone wall which bears the famous remarks of Gen. Douglas Macarthur about the Filipino soldier, “I don’t’ know the dignity of his birth but I do know the glory of his death.”


The great nationalist, Claro M. Recto, showed tremendous love of country in thought, word and deed. He died in Rome in 1960 while on a cultural mission. His famous last words to his wife at his bedside were, “It’s terrible to die in a foreign country”. A nationalist to the bone,  indeed to his dying breath.

Some say it with lines of poetry, others with the lyrics of a song. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in a poem we memorized in high school, said of her loved one,” If God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. The same sentiment was expressed by songwriter George Canseco through Basil Valdez in the song “Ngayon at Kailan Man”:“Ngunit isang araw pa, matapos ang mundo’y magunaw na, hanggang doon magwawkas ang pagibig kung wagas.”

Life is more beautiful with memories.