The cost of keeping the wake alive

SETS OF CARDS. With players taking on 4 – 6 tables, sets of playing cards will have to be purchased to accommodate the players.

Keeping the wake alive is quite expensive. In local terms, we call it lamay or burol.

This is the second time I have to keep eyes wide open for someone’s wake. The first was when my father died. Every night, we have a “full house” with my father’s friends and associates from different sectors visiting.

For now, it’s my father-in-law. He died couple of days ago and we have his wake at Brgy. 6.

Weeks ago, my wife would spend restless nights and days looking after his father at Batangas Regional Hospital. After a very disappointing one week confinement at Occidental Mindoro Provincial Hospital with doctors’ failure to specifically identify his illness, we have to bring him to Batangas City.

We headed to Saint Patrick’s Hospital immediately after disembarking at Batangas Port. Examinations were made. Doctors and nurses were in full swing checking my father-n-law’s condition. Unfortunately, PhilHealth refused to grant discounts due to one-letter-clerical-error on his middle name.

The discount can give us a bigger breathing space. But to no avail at Saint Patrick. So we decided to take him to Batangas Medical Hospital.

However, we got stuck with bad luck. It’s Christmas holiday. We have to wait for a week or two before doctors return from vacation.

My wife stayed put in Batangas as I went back to Mamburao for work.

Finally, my father-in-law had his operation on the second week of January 2020. Unfortunately, his health and condition further diminished. But before hand, we were told he was given wrong medicine during his confinement at Occidental Mindoro Provincial Hospital.

He complained for stomach ache. The his right knee ballooned. And I was told medicines given were to treat his swelling knee and not the originally complained abdominal pains.

Coffee and and sugar is of importance and should not go down to its bottom.

To cut the story short, we were able to bring Tatay Peter back here in Mamburao. That was Saturday evening, if I’m not mistaken. He was laid to bed for a rest with oxygen brushing smoke directly to his lungs through his nostrils.

Hours passed. Early morning the following day, Tatay Peter decided to leave us.

And here we are on the fifth night of his wake.

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The Cost

Understandably, we have to host visitors to see Tatay Peter. So my sisters-in-law went on to prepare everything -from plates to cooking utensils.

As early as 3:00pm, family member would start preparing everything.

Aside from Tatay Peter’s close friends coming who would talk with my mother-in-law Inay Resi, card game fanatics take on most of the tables and seats. And that’s when we have to prepare.

Like going into war, our buffet table must be filled with ammunition up to wee hours the following day.


Once card games started, my sisters-in-law hardly find time for a seat to rest the their battered legs. With players locked on their seats, the rest of us will have “waiter” for them, not stop and simultaneously.

On a regular basis, we have on our table coffee, sugar, biscuits, finger foods, and others.

Sisters-in-law, with my admiration tucked in their pockets, would routinely go around tables and look for distress signal. And that is, empty coffee cups.

Refilling the cups, they would bring either biscuits or finger foods to game card tables.

Card players come and go at table game.

Coffee should be bottom-less. It should be free-flowing.

I would even see my brother-in-law putting-up fire on his lighter to lit someone else’s cigarette playing cards.

At times, we have to cook this much. Rice occupy at least three rice cookers, complemented with meat or vegetable cuisine.

Cooking, uncertain with number of people coming or eating, will always be more then the usual.

We may have gotten used to cooking for four members of the family, it will double or triple during wake.

But there are still reasons to be thankful with. Some visitors would bring or donate biscuits, coffee, packs of candies and others. Somehow, one way or another, they lighten our financial burden.

Tatay Peter will stay with us until his youngest son from abroad arrives.

Until then, we will watch over him.

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