This whole week until Friday, November 1, hundreds of thousands of people will be travelling from Metro Manila to their home provinces for the traditional “Undas” season. This is one of the three times in the year when this mass movement of people takes place. The other two times are during Holy Week and at Christmas time.
Undas, Holy Week, and Christmas are three of the most important feasts in the Church calendar. On these holidays, churches all over the land are filled much more than they usually are.
It is also during these three holidays that we see the mass movement of people from Metro Manila to the rest of the country – by bus to North, Central, and Southern Luzon, and the Bicol region; by ship and plane to the Visayan islands and Mindanao.
Last Thursday, the Land Transpiration Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced it had already granted the applications from various bus companies to field 855 buses outside their normal routes from October 30 to November 3, to take care of the big volume of city folk going to their home provinces and back.
Aside from showing religious fervor, this mass movement of people during Undas, Holy Week, and Christmas also shows the basic unity of the Filipino people. Many of those in the nation’s center have their roots in the far-flung areas of the country. Thus, during the three holidays, many city folk renew their ties not only with the family in the provinces, but also with the other local folks, the old familiar places in the town, and of course the church which had nurtured their faith and that of their fathers.
It might also be pointed out that the leaders who make the decisions in the national government also have their roots in the provinces. Our presidents have come from Cavite, Quezon Province, Batangas, Cebu, Capiz, Ilocos Sur, Zambales, Bohol, Pampanga, Ilocos Norte, Tarlac, Pangasinan, and Davao, and only two from Metro Manila’s San Juan and Quezon City. Our Senate presidents and Houser speakers have similarly come from all over the country. If indeed the county has been ruled by “imperial Manila” as some claim, the “emperors” have nearly all been provincianos.
And so as we begin the annual mass movement of city folk to the provinces, let us celebrate not just the religious reason for Undas but also the unity of our people. We may be many thousands of islands separated by so many seas, straits, and rivers, but we are one Filipino people.