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Filipinos flock to cemeteries for All Saints' Day

By Ara Eugenio, Agence France-Presse Published Nov 01, 2022 4:36 pm

Filipinos clutching flowers and umbrellas poured into cemeteries across the Catholic-majority Philippines Tuesday to pay tribute to their dead loved ones on All Saints' Day for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rain fell as thousands walked or took free motorized tricycle services to tombs scattered across sprawling graveyards in the capital Manila where many poor families live alongside the dead in shanties or mausoleums.

Ahead of the "day of the dead", a powerful tropical storm unleashed landslides and flooding across the archipelago nation, killing at least 110 people and leaving dozens missing.

Among the tens of thousands of visitors to Manila North Cemetery was Leonardo Filamor, 58, who was paying his respects to a friend who died in 2017.

"Even a typhoon would not have stopped me from coming here," said Filamor, who left a card and a small bouquet of white flowers at the tomb.

Filamor said he lived on the streets and previously had not been able to afford the public transport fare to reach the cemetery. 

"I'm really happy I had the money this time and got to be with him again," he said. 

Individuals visit deceased loved ones at the Bagbag Public Cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City in observance of Undas.

It was the first time since the start of the pandemic that cemeteries were open on November 1 for the ancient Christian tradition, which honours all saints and martyrs who died for the faith. 

Millions of Filipinos normally go to cemeteries on the day to remember their dead relatives by praying, lighting candles and leaving flowers at the gravesites.

People flock to the Barangka Public Cemetery in Marikina City as they visit their departed loved ones, in observance of All Saint's Day, November 1 2022.

People began lining up before dawn to enter graveyards in Manila. 

Flower vendor Lucila Cleto said the weekend storm had dented sales and driven up the price of chrysanthemums and roses.

"I'm not expecting to earn much, just enough to get by," the 52-year-old told AFP as she sat under a tent among buckets of bouquets and pots of flowers.

Cemeteries in the Philippines range from quiet fields of white crosses to dense "apartment" tombs stacked metres high.

While most people visit the graves of relatives or friends, others go to remember their beloved pets.

"My siblings and I have a huge age gap so I only had Tatsumi as my playmate growing up," said a 29-year-old woman, referring to her Japanese spitz dog buried under a tree near her grandparents' tomb.  

Individuals visit deceased loved ones at the Bagbag Public Cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City in observance of Undas.

"I was devastated when he died."

Mariz Amplayo, who brought her three children to visit the grave of her diabetic brother, said it was an important day for her family.

"Visiting dead loved ones every year keeps their memory alive," Amplayo, 47, said as she left flowers, candles and food at his tomb. 

"We don't want to ever forget." (AFP)