Residents here have started paying respects to their departed loved ones ahead of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day observance, shunning family gathering traditions in compliance with restrictions due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.
For Nenita Saballa, 59, of Pago village, the celebration is strange with her being alone visiting the grave of her husband and son, who both died in 2011.
“It has become a family tradition during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (Undas) that we share food together here as a way of spending time with our relatives who passed away. But this won’t happen this time. I have to come here earlier, without other family members due to some restrictions,” Saballa said in an interview Wednesday.
The lone cemetery would be closed from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 in compliance with Resolution No. 72 issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), regulating all activities related to ‘Undas’ amid the threat of Covid-19.
However, the local government has allowed a 30-percent visitor capacity in the cemetery from Oct. 24 to 28 and from Nov. 5 to 15 and prohibited the consumption and sale of food, installation of tents, tables, chairs, and entertainment equipment, which are common sights inside the cemetery during this period.
Thelma Cinco, 47, also visited the grave of her mother who died a year ago.
She said despite limitations, it is important to fulfill this tradition, where candles are lit up and prayers are offered as respect for the departed.
“We just have to follow the health protocols, wear a face mask, and observe physical distancing for everyone’s safety. Hopefully, next year, when times are better, we could observe Undas according to our usual practices” Cinco said.
As directed, gatherings in individual graves or markers at the public cemetery must be limited to only five persons at a given time.
Janine Maceda, 23, said although they can visit the graves of her grandparents anytime of the year, ‘Undas’ is one of the few opportunities to get reunited with relatives from other places.
“Just like most families, it would only be the time for us to pray for the departed souls of our relatives together. Since the cemetery would be closed during Undas, we will commemorate our departed loved ones at the comfort and safety of our homes through prayers,” she said.
To date, the town has 12 active cases of Covid-19, based on the monitoring report of the local government. (PNA)