Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many events got postponed, celebrations canceled, and occasions celebrated differently. And now, just like how graduation rites were done virtually through online video meeting platforms like Zoom, Filipinos will be celebrating another occasion differently due to the health crisis.
To the dismay of many Filipinos, this year’s All Souls’ Day or Undas season will not be observed in cemeteries. It comes as the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has ordered cemeteries nationwide to close from October 29 to November 4. (Read: Antipolo Church Offers ‘Drive-Thru Communion’ for Parishioners)
The decision has been made to prevent people from crowding in cemeteries during Undas week, seeing as most Filipinos religiously visit their loved ones’ graves on November 1 and 2, which increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
No Age Restrictions
According to the IATF-EID, everyone will be allowed to go to cemeteries from September 17 to October 28, and from November 5 to 15. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has also said that children and the elderly will be allowed to physically visit their departed relatives, despite the quarantine guideline that restricts the members of these age groups from going out.
“The age restrictions will not apply. We know that the seniors and children will really want to pay tribute to their departed loved ones,” the spokesperson explained. (Read: 3 Ways to Observe Undas Amid Quarantine Restrictions)
In addition, only 30% of the cemetery’s usual capacity will be allowed at any given time. This also goes without saying that the minimum health protocols should be followed such as wearing masks and face shields and practicing physical distancing.
Light a Candle, Say a Prayer
Despite the pandemic and closing of cemeteries, we can still honor the Filipino tradition of observing the Undas season even at the confines of our homes. (Read: A Prayer for When You Cannot Attend a Loved One’s Funeral)
Lighting candles in a sacred corner of the house and praying the novena for the dead with the family is a great alternative to visiting the cemetery or columbarium. You can also attend an online Mass and submit your intentions to the church. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also recently revived Undas Online, their online platform where individuals can submit their prayer requests to remember their dearly departed.