Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Millions crowd Philippine cemeteries to remember the dead

Nov 01. 2018
Photo : EPA-EFE
Photo : EPA-EFE
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By AFP

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Manila - Millions packed cemeteries across the Catholic Philippines on Thursday to pay their respects to the dead, on a day that mixes somber reflection with the nation's penchant for festivity.

    Mourners nationwide huddled at the tombs of their loved ones, while police at graveyard entrances confiscated karaoke microphones and church leaders urged the faithful to take it easy on the booze.

    It is all part of All Saints' Day, which takes place each year on November 1, when families pray, reminisce and honour those who died for their faith in a tradition that goes back to ancient Rome.

    In the capital Manila, Virginia Acasio went with eight of her children and grandchildren to visit the grave of her grandson, Vergel, who died in an accident two years ago, when he was three years old.

    "It is still painful for us," Acasio, 58, told AFP. "We have to go. It is an obligation. We miss my grandchild so we have to come here on the day of the dead."

    In the capital's sprawling cemeteries, vendors peddled flowers and candles as well as food, drinks and even toys among the newly-whitewashed tombs to the crowds of families visiting the graves.

    The final resting places for many are so-called "apartment" tombs which are stacked one on top of the other and can rise metres over the crowds.

    With offices, shops and schools closed, dense crowds carrying memorial flowers as well as bags packed with picnic supplies and the occasional bottle of beer queued up outside the cemeteries.

    The country's Catholic bishops conference urged people to avoid "rather inappropriate practices such as gambling, excessive drinking, and the littering of cemeteries and other holy places".

    "Many might have forgotten the significance of these commemorations as seen in the general lack of atmosphere of prayer in the cemeteries," it said.

    The government has also discouraged excessive merry-making with police setting up checkpoints at cemetery gates where they frisked entrants, and piled up seized items like cigarettes, knives, playing cards and barbecue utensils.

    The annual pilgrimage to the cemeteries triggers a mass exodus from the capital, with millions traveling back to their home provinces where relatives are buried.

    Tens of thousands of police are deployed at bus and boat terminals as well as graveyards across the archipelago nation of more than 105 million people.

 

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