By Michelle Domocol
Last week was my grandma’s birthday. She passed away more than a decade ago but my family still celebrates her birthday every year. We mark her birthday with small blessings to maintain our connection and to ensure her afterlife is peaceful.
My mom and her sisters call a priest and request grandma’s name is included in the mass petitions. I usually take a nature hike and quietly recall fond memories with her. Or I watch one of grandma’s favorite movies.
Families in Cebu practice many beautiful and creative traditions to honor those who passed. Another way to commemorate or celebrate a loved one is to build a garden.
I would build a Bam-i Garden to remember Lola. Bam-i is a dish with two types of noodles, vegetables, and chicken. In Cebu, it’s commonly served on birthdays and a delicious symbol for long life. My grandma’s recipe was especially delectable.
Lola’s memorial garden would feature her signature Bam-i ingredients. I’d add garden beds of carrots and celery with potted napa cabbage and sweet peas. Limonsito (calamondin) and wood ear mushrooms are also essential to Bam-i.
In a cooler dark shed, I would install an indoor mushroom bed. Finally, in sunny spots of the garden, I would add clusters of limonsito trees. Since Lola was a movie buff, I might add some seating and a white wall so we could project her favorite comedy films. Photo 1 shows my sketch of Lola’s Bamb-i Garden.
On All Soul’s Day, in Cebu, I see many families honor the dead in joyful and beautiful ways. Some families visit the graves of deceased relatives and set up picnics. They eat the deceased one’s favorite snacks, offer flowers, conduct mass, and recite prayers.
A memorial garden can be an extension of those joyful rituals. It can be a small, intimate space to remember and reflect by yourself. Or it can be an outdoor room to gather, honor and celebrate loved ones together with family and friends.
If you feel inspired to build your own memorial garden, you can plant it with loved one’s favorite flowers or fruits. Or maybe fill it with ingredients from a favorite dish. Hope you have a peaceful and creative time celebrating loved ones!