"Death in the Philippines" is an ethnographic film set in Northern Philippines. The film explores the religious syncretism, i.e. the combining of Colonialist Catholic traditions and local spiritual beliefs. There is no strict divide between the living and the dead in the Philippines, the dead can and still influence the living. It is the job of the living to control and maintain their relationships with the deceased.
The film is in two parts; the first part 'Remembering the Dead' follows one family's preparation and execution of remembrance rituals of the deceased that entwines the Catholic traditions of prayer and the local traditions of ancestor worship and gift giving.
The second part deals with the removal of bad spirits in the home. Folk beliefs suggest that once a house becomes empty for a while bad spirits come and congregate there. Bad spirits are believed to cause illnesses and sometimes death and so their presence to the living is dangerous. Therefore, it is necessary for the living to remove these spirits, which is also done through a syncretic mix of Christian prayers and localised spiritual chants.
The films balance each other as the first deals with maintaining a positive relationship with 'good' spirits such as relatives while the second film deals with the threat of bad spirits and how to remove them in such a way, that does not cause too much harm for both the living and the dead.
Filmed and edited by Chloe Evans during the Summer of 2012.