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Filipinos flock to cemeteries for Nov. 1 tradition

PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

CEMETERIES across the Philippines were abuzz on Tuesday as Filipinos were again allowed to observe the Nov. 1 tradition of bringing flowers, lighting candles and even sharing a meal with family at the burial site of departed loved ones.   

Anjonalyn Arago was one of the millions of workers in the capital region Metro Manila who traveled to her hometown Puerto Galera to join relatives and friends on the Catholic feast, which is one of the most important observances in the Philippines.   

Just like most Filipinos, Ms. Arago and her relatives were expected to spend the day at the gravesite, eating and chatting — scenes common in Filipino reunions.   

“We always make sure to visit our aunt every year on or before Nov. 1. It’s a once-in-a-year moment with our family and friends,” she said in a Facebook Messenger chat.  

In the capital Manila alone, about 300,000 people visited public and private cemeteries, the city’s police district told BusinessWorld.   

At the Manila North Cemetery, one of the largest and oldest cemeteries in the capital region, people were still required to wear face masks — which are now optional in both indoor and outdoor spaces in the country except in medical facilities and public transportation.   

John Paolo R. Rivera, an economist at the Asian Institute of Management, said the Nov. 1 holiday benefits small businesses and enterprising vendors, such as those who sell candles, flowers and food just outside the cemeteries.   

“Filipinos are entrepreneurial. They will take advantage of this once-in-a-year demand,” he said in a Viber message. “Small players will benefit, especially those in the business of food and beverages.”  

He added that rest and recreation establishments would also see an increase in earnings, although domestic travel plans for the four-day weekend were disrupted by Tropical Storm Paeng, internationally named Nalgae. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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