In anticipation of All Saints’ Day (November 1, Tuesday) and All Souls’ Day (November 2, Wednesday), cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbaries are expected to be fully opened to the public this year. Last year, the Metro Manila Council (MMC) ordered the closure of cemeteries in Metro Manila to curb COVID-19 infections.
President Bongbong Marcos has declared October 31, 2022 as a special non-working holiday, giving Filipinos a long weekend ahead.
To ensure a safe and well-oiled Undas, it’s important to be prepared in all aspects as your family will spend a whole day remembering and honoring deceased loved ones with a virus still lingering.
I. Protocols and guidelines
1. Wear a face mask. On September 12, President Marcos released Executive Order No. 3 which made wearing masks optional in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas. However, the Department of Health (DOH) urges the public to wear face masks in the upcoming Undas as large crowds can cause a super spreader event.
2. Observe social distancing.
3. Clean as you go.
4. Be respectful to other visitors. Do not mock or disturb them in any way.
5. Be wary of strangers approaching you at the cemetery. Over the years, there have been reports of unscrupulous people pretending to be priests who bless tombs to solicit donations. It’s also important for families to stay together and implement a buddy system in light of alleged recent kidnappings and disappearances circulating on social media.
6. Know the location of the nearest first aid station.
7. Do not use your phone or wear expensive jewelry in crowded public areas to avoid snatching.
8. Children must keep IDs with contact numbers on them at all times.
9. Wear breathable fabric to minimize the risks of heat stroke. Stick to light neutrals if you are not allowed to wear bright-colored clothing. However, it’s important to stay cool as wearing dark clothes as they absorb heat.
II. Preparations prior to visiting the cemetery
1. At home:
- Unplug all electrical appliances.
- Turn off your LPG tank and assess for leaks.
- Check all faucets.
- Provide sufficient food and water for pets and keep the house well-ventilated.
- If no one will be left at home, you may leave a light on to deter intruders.
- Lock all doors, windows, and gates.
- Charge your power banks.
2. Plan your route to the cemetery to avoid unnecessary gas expenses.
3. Check your vehicle’s fuel, oil, brake fluid, water, and tires to prevent hitches on the road and expect traffic surges.
III. What to bring to honor the dead
1. Candles, a lighter, and a metal tray for large candles
Take note of the appropriate color for candles:
- White candles are for those who have passed away less than a year prior;
- Yellow candles are for those who have passed away for more than a year but less than two years;
- Red candles are for those who have been gone for more than two years.
2. Incense sticks and ash catcher
Take note of the appropriate color for incense sticks:
- Yellow incense sticks are for those who have passed away less than two years prior;
- Red incense sticks are for those who have passed away two or more years since.
4. Joss paper and burning bins
5. Food offerings
You may offer round fruits and food, typically in odd numbers.
6. Tomb papers
7. Rags to clean the tomb
IV. What to bring for the living
This serves as a general checklist for all of the things you and your family need during your day visit to the cemetery.
- Appropriate amount of food, snacks, and drinks (no alcoholic beverages allowed)
- Drinking water
- Disposable plates, utensils, bowls, and drinking cups or refillable bottles
- Scissors and wire/ rope (for emergency use)
- Foldable tables and chairs or a mat to sit on
- Tissue paper, diapers, and sanitary napkins (if needed)
- Hand soap or alcohol
- Extra clothes
- Tent or canopy tent
- First aid kit
- Medicine and maintenance pills
- Power bank and phone charger
- Rechargeable fans or pamaypay
- Extra face masks
- Entertainment (do not bring loud, disruptive forms of entertainment or any form of gambling)
V. What NOT to bring
- Firearms, ammunition, sharp objects, and other deadly weapons
- All forms of gambling
- Loud speakers
- Liquor and other alcoholic beverages