With flowers and umbrellas, crowds of Filipinos gathered in cemeteries in this majority-Catholic country on Tuesday to pay tribute to their dead on All Saints’ Day, for the first time since the start of the covid-19 pandemic.
Thousands of people walked or took the service of motorized tricycles in the rain to go to the graves in the large cemeteries of the capital, Manila.
Before the holiday, a powerful tropical storm caused landslides and floods throughout the archipelago, leaving at least 110 dead and dozens missing.
Among the tens of thousands of visitors to the Manila North Cemetery was Leonardo Filamor, 58, who wanted to honor a friend who died in 2017.
“Not even a typhoon would have stopped me from coming,” said Filamor, who left a card and a bouquet of white flowers at the grave.
As he says, before he lived on the street and could not even pay for public transport to go to the cemetery.
“I’m happy that this time I did have the money and I was able to be with him again,” he said.
It was the first time since the start of the pandemic that cemeteries opened in the Philippines on November 1 to observe this Christian tradition, which honors saints and martyrs who died for their faith.
Millions of Filipinos often go to cemeteries on this date to remember their dead relatives with prayers, candles and flowers.
Many lined up before dawn to enter Manila’s cemeteries.
Flower vendor Lucila Cleto said the weekend storm affected sales and pushed up prices for chrysanthemums and roses.
“I don’t expect to earn much, just enough to get by,” said the 52-year-old woman sitting under a tent among buckets full of flowers.
Although most go to visit family or friends, some will also remember their pets.
“My brothers and I have a big age difference, so I only had Tatsumi as a playmate when I was little,” said a 29-year-old woman referring to her dog buried under a tree near her grandparents’ grave.
“I was devastated when he died,” she added.
Mariz Amplayo, who took her three children to visit the grave of her diabetic brother, said it was an important date for her family.
“Visiting loved ones every year keeps their memory alive,” said Amplayo, 47, after laying flowers, candles and food on his brother’s grave.