Filipino families commemorate All Saints’ Day virtually amid pandemic

Image via Rai Ronquillo and Norman Aberia
  • Filipinos would have to let go of their usual tradition of getting together at the cemetery to visit their loved ones this Undas
  • The IATF issued an order banning visitors from going to private and public cemeteries in the country
  • In commemoration of All Saints’ Day, families will make use of streaming platforms to be together virtually

For the past years, Raina Shane Ronquillo’s family would take advantage of the Undas holidays to catch up and most importantly, to pray for the souls of their departed loved ones.

Image via Rai Ronquillo

But this year, the Ronquillos, along with thousands of other Filipino families, would have to let go of this tradition and settle with the use of streaming apps to virtually be together.

The Inter-Agency Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) ordered the closure of all private and public cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbariums from October 29 to November 4 as a measure to avoid public gatherings.

Raina shared that in the past years, her family would plan everything for their November 1 gathering at the cemetery — from food to their activities.

“We would go to the cemetery as early as 6 a.m. and stay there until sunset,” she said.

In the morning, they would play card and board games. By noon, they would pray the rosary and wait for lay ministers to go around and bless the t0mbstones. They would also attend the afternoon mass at the cemetery’s church.

Image via Juliann Lapidez

Juliann Lapidez and her family, on the other hand, made it a point to go home to Tarlac to pay respect to their relatives who have passed. “It’s a very important tradition for us because we only get to go home and visit our relatives in the province once a year,” she said.

However, the two said their family will “improvise” this year. “Our plan is to do a live stream so that family members from different places can join the prayer, which we usually do in the cemetery,” Raina said.

Juliann, meanwhile, said her immediate family will light up candles and pray.

While saddened by the IATF order, the two said they understand the need for it. “The prohibition to visit cemeteries is understandable. It’s our culture to go to cemeteries yearly and it will put everyone at risk if they did not release that order,” she said.

Raina agreed, saying that some of their family members are at risk of the virus because of their age.

What’s important, they said, is that they will continue to pray for the soul of their loved ones. “We will pray for the soul of our departed loved ones. I hope they can also pray for us that we can finally get past this pandemic,” Juliann said.

How did your family commemorate this year’s Undas?