Millions of people in the Philippines visited cemeteries to honor their deceased loved ones on All Saints’ Day for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Filipinos gathered to remember their dead family and friends by lighting candles and leaving flowers and food at gravesites despite some cemeteries being soaked in floodwater and mud due to the tropical storm last week.
The storm, which unleashed flooding and landslides across the nation, killed more than 100 people and left dozens missing. However, the rain did not stop Filipinos from spending most of the day by the tombs of their deceased.
“Even a typhoon would not have stopped me from coming here,” Leonardo Filamor, 58, who visited his friend’s tomb in Manila North Cemetery, told the New Straits Times.
In Manila North Cemetery alone, more than 200,000 people were estimated to have visited and crowded around the area despite social distancing measures in place.
“So far, for the last two to three days, the situation in cemeteries particularly here in Manila has been generally peaceful,” Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo told GMA News.
According to the PNP, more than 192,000 officers were deployed at around 4,768 cemeteries for the occasion. With the country recovering from the pandemic, visitors were required to wear face masks.
The celebration, which is known in the Philippines as “Undas,” or Day of the Dead, is commemorated in a festive atmosphere. In addition to visiting the cemetery, most Catholic families also attend local churches to pray for their loved ones the following day for All Souls’ Day, which is also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.
The Philippines, which is a predominantly Catholic nation, is considered the second country after Mexico with the most people to celebrate the Day of the Dead.
“The pandemic of recent years forced us to come to terms with our mortality. It taught us to number our days as we realize the uncertainty of our time on Earth,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in a statement.