How to safely celebrate Undas

·Contributor
·3 min read
FILE PHOTO: A father and son are silhouetted as they visit a dead relative, days ahead of All Souls day inside the Cemetery of the Heroes in Taguig City, Metro Manila October 30, 2010. (Source: REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo)
FILE PHOTO: A father and son are silhouetted as they visit a dead relative, days ahead of All Souls day inside the Cemetery of the Heroes in Taguig City, Metro Manila October 30, 2010. (Source: REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo)

All Saints Day and All Souls Day, known simply as Undas in Filipino, are major holidays in the Philippines. Filipinos from all over the world gather at this time of year to remember and pay respects to their loved ones who have passed away.

As the pandemic rages on, however, this year's festivities will be a lot different from what we’ve been used to.

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a government-imposed face mask and face shield to protect her from COVID-19 coronavirus disease prays at their relatives grave ahead of a weeklong closure of cemeteries on the annual observance of All Saints Day in Manila on October 28, 2020. (Source: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a government-imposed face mask and face shield to protect her from COVID-19 coronavirus disease prays at their relatives grave ahead of a weeklong closure of cemeteries on the annual observance of All Saints Day in Manila on October 28, 2020. (Source: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

This marks the country’s second Undas on lockdown.

In 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) ordered the closure of all private and public cemeteries, memorial parks and columbaria from October 29to November 4. 

FILE PHOTO: A policewoman stands inside a cemetery in Manila, the Philippines, Oct. 28, 2020. (Source: Xinhua/Rouelle Umali via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: A policewoman stands inside a cemetery in Manila, the Philippines, Oct. 28, 2020. (Source: Xinhua/Rouelle Umali via Getty Images)

While some were disappointed with this move because they missed out on a yearly tradition with their families, many Filipinos lauded the government for its effort to curb the spread of the virus. 

So what can we expect this year? 

On October 25, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. reminded the public of the protocols and guidelines to be followed, which were similar to the ones from last year.

  • Cemeteries will still be shut down from October 29 to November 2.

  • Cemeteries will only accommodate a maximum of 30% of their full capacity.

  • Safety and health protocols such as social distancing and the wearing of face masks will be strictly enforced.

FILE PHOTO: A woman visits a cemetery in Manila, the Philippines, Oct. 28, 2020. (Source: Xinhua/Rouelle Umali via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: A woman visits a cemetery in Manila, the Philippines, Oct. 28, 2020. (Source: Xinhua/Rouelle Umali via Getty Images)

If you do plan to make a visit to the cemetery, here are a few pointers to ensure your safety, and the safety of your family as well.

  • Plan ahead. Schedule your visit during non-peak hours to avoid crowds.

  • Bring everything that you might need—candles, flowers, food, chairs, umbrellas and tents. Don’t forget alcohol, sanitizers and wet wipes.

  • Practice social distancing even if you’re with your family. This is crucial, especially if you’re with your grandparents or with your kids.

  • If you need to travel, it is best to do this in a private vehicle. If this isn’t possible, and commuting is your only option, book your ticket ahead of your trip so you can pick your seat.

  • If you aren’t vaccinated, please get vaccinated before you visit the cemetery.

And of course, the safest option is to postpone the cemetery trip. Why not visit your loved ones on their birthdays and death anniversaries instead?

Don’t worry, they’ll understand. Last year showed us that we can always, light a candle, have a simple celebration with our family to honor their memories in the comfort of our homes.

Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.

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