My uncle – who tonight left the Philippines to go back to work at Seattle – is thinking about putting up a business here instead of working abroad. I made a joking suggestion about putting up a funeral parlor. Surprisingly, he – along with my parents – look at it as a very good idea.
In the indy movie Ataul for Rent, Joel Torre became rich – and mad – renting out coffins to his neighbors. While Ataul is a good study in the nature of man, it led me to assume that there is profit in dead people. For one, funeral parlors have a steady source of profit: people die all the time. For two, we Filipinos spend so much in appeasing the souls of the reposed. For three – and this is just me – I like the idea of driving a hearse.
In my father’s hometown of La Union, “Joces” is a ubiquitous name: it is the most famous funeral parlor in Bauang, San Fernando City, and beyond. What started out as a backyard funeral home turned into a multi-million peso family-owned franchise. From what I’m told, Joces not only has a flexible payment rate, but it also rents out chairs and tents. The people at Joces also provide free biscuit tins and brewed coffee to its clients to defray the costs of feeding mourners.
(In case you think I “sold myself” to advertise a funeral home, I did that for free: nobody at Joces told me to write about them. So there.)
When my grandmother died a couple of years ago, I became very interested in the idea of being a mortician or a funeral director: even better yet, a driver of a hearse. There’s something about driving a corpse around town in neutral gear. While I’d prefer to stick my earphones in for anything other than “Hindi Kita Malilimutan.”