Philippines: Predominantly Catholic Nation Observes All Saints’ Day

Luis Liwanag and Karl Romano

With the Manila city in the background, people gather near the tombs of their loved ones in Barangka Cemetery, Nov. 1, 2018. (Luis Liwanag/BenarNews)


Police check packages to make sure cemetery visitors are not bringing in banned items, Nov. 1, 2018. (Luis Liwanag/BenarNews)


A vendor sells candles, drinks and snacks outside the Barangka Cemetery, Nov. 1, 2018. Luis Liwanag/BenarNews)


Two men try to find their relative’s tomb, Nov. 1, 2018. (Luis Liwanag/BenarNews)


Filipinos stand vigil in front of freshly painted tombs, Nov. 1, 2018. (Luis Liwanag/BenarNews)


As darkness falls, candles light the faces of those paying respect, Nov. 1, 2018. (Luis Liwanag/BenarNews)


A man sits in vigil on the tomb of a loved one, Nov. 1, 2018. (Luis Liwanag/BenarNews)


Flowers and a stuffed animal adorn the brightly painted tomb of a child, Nov. 1, 2018. (Luis Liwanag/BenarNews)


Filipinos light candles for their departed loved ones, Nov. 1, 2018. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Nearby candlelight illuminates a cross, Nov. 1, 2018. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)

Millions of Filipinos traveled to cemeteries on Thursday to remember their deceased relatives in an annual tradition in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

The country observes All Saints’ and All Souls’ days on Nov. 1 and 2, respectively. Days before the holidays people flock to the cemeteries to clean tombs, paint them in festive colors, bring flowers and candles.

In Barangka Cemetery in suburban Marikina, east of the capital Manila, Filipinos move through maze-like rows of tombs stacked atop each other in what is commonly referred to in this impoverished section of the city as “apartments’ to house their dearly departed.

The Philippine National Police barred personnel from taking a day off so they could guard cemeteries and manage crowds. At the Manila North Cemetery in another part of the city, Filipinos faced strict inspections where items such as cigarettes, alcohol, bladed weapons and loud radios are banned to allow for a solemn observance.

The annual cemetery pilgrimage often turns into impromptu family reunions, allowing long-lost relatives to meet near the tombs of dead relatives serving as silent witnesses.


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