DEAR ABBY: With regard to Jessica Mitford's statement: "The open-casket funeral is unique to the U.S. and Canada; in no other country is the bizarre ritual of `viewing' the deceased a part of any funeral service."
Sorry, Jessica, you are "dead" wrong on this one! Here in the Philippines, the open-casket viewing is traditional. President Corazon Aquino is frequently pictured in local newspapers and on television consoling the relatives of slain government officials, labor leaders, soldiers or victims of violence - all before an open casket displaying a sometimes gruesome corpse. In fact, the body of her own husband, Benigno Aquino Jr., was displayed in the clothing he was wearing when he was gunned down so that "the people can see what they (Marcos' thugs) did to him."The Philippines is a Catholic nation, the only one in Asia, and perhaps the customs spring from the Hispanic influence. However, one must remember the dramatic pictures of funeral pyres of such Hindu leaders as Gandhi or Nehru. Their bodies were on view as part of the funeral services. Remember, too, in the Soviet Union, where there is officially no religion, the dead bodies of communist bosses from Stalin through Chernenko were always on display before they were laid to rest in the Kremlin Wall.
I am sure you will get a mountain of mail on this, Abby. - FAITHFUL READER, MANILA
DEAR READER: The "mountain" of mail wasn't exactly Mount Everest; let's say it was only Mount McKinley.
DEAR ABBY: Your recent columns on smoking really hit home with me. Having been a heavy smoker for years, I know how hard it is to quit. I am 76 years old and quit cold-turkey 28 years ago. Let me tell you what else I did. I began putting the money I would have spent on cigarettes into a special savings account. The account grew to $15,000, which I used to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary earlier this month.
I know for sure if I had not quit smoking when I did, I would not have been around today. If you think this idea about banking the cigarette money might help others, you may use my name. - OWEN B. YECKLEY, SEWICKLEY, PA.
DEAR MR. YECKLEY: Congratulations to you and your bride of 50 years. And what a great idea to bank the cigarette money that might otherwise have gone up in smoke.
DEAR ABBY: I am a young man who has let my hair grow very long, down to my shoulders. It's always shampooed and looks pretty, but some people call me "Miss." How can I let them know that I am a man? - ELLIS
DEAR ELLIS: Grow a beard.
DEAR ABBY: "Had It in Hawaii," whose neighbor was always borrowing something which she never paid back, reminded me of a neighbor we had when I was a kid, 60 years ago. She was forever borrowing coffee. She always paid it back, only she gave us a real cheap kind.
Mom got tired of it, so when this neighbor sent over this cheap coffee, Mom would just set it aside, and the next time this neighbor asked to borrow some coffee, Mom would just lend her some of her own cheap coffee.
You guessed it. She quit borrowing coffee. - MRS. JONES (MY REAL NAME) IN INDIANA
What teenagers need to know about sex, drugs AIDS, and getting along with their peers and parents is now in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)