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Grave branding: Remembering a loved one

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY --- Most of us, particularly Catholics, remember our departed loved ones by cleaning the grave, painting it white, place fresh flowers, then light candles for an overnight vigil. Sometimes singing the departed love one’s favorite songs is part of the occasion.

But to a family in Albay, they do it in a bit unique way---painting the graves of their departed father his favorite brands and colors while still alive. They loosely call it “grave branding.”

Angel Roa Relleve, a nurse working in Metro Manila, dreamed of his father who died seven years ago. Reading it as a sign, she filed a leave of absence from her work and went to her home town in Oas, Albay to visit the grave of her father.

Angel said that during “Undas,” she and her family members seek the expertise of a painter to draw the favorite brands on their father’s grave.

Her father, Jose Reodique Relleve, who died in 2011, was a government employee.

“We remember him as a jolly, funny, loving father although he is also a disciplinarian,” Angel added.

Since 2011, Angel said, they have hired a painter who would draw their father’s favorite brands on his grave as part of their observance of the Undas, or All Saints Day.

Angel said that in 2011, her father’s grave was decorated with black, white and red stripes; in 2012, with Egyptian-inspired colors of white silver and gold, combined with stars and moon figures.

After 2012, she said they had the grave drawn with different popular brands of apparels, coffee shops, whisky and cars.

“Adidas for 2013, Ferrari for 2014, Starbucks for 2015, Black Label Johnnie Walker for 2017, and Lacoste for 2017,” Angel recalled.

She said that they would have it designed this year with the famous and favorite perfume brand “Bulgari.”

“Our father used to recite to us this line: Mejor la formenta con Cristo que las aguas suaves (“Better the storm with Christ than smooth waters without Him), she said.

Angel admitted that their grave branding is drawing attention from those visiting graves of their loved ones inside their town cemetery.

“We don’t mind. What we want is a unique way of remembering our departed father. We find it most fitting to his character when he was still with us,” Angel added.

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