Manila — Millions of people in the Catholic-dominated Philippines flocked to cemeteries Friday to honor their dead in festive fashion on All Saint’s Day, ignoring appeals from the Church to keep the day solemn.
Police were on full alert in Manila, as their warnings not to bring alcohol, loud portable stereos, or deadly weapons to the gravesites were also largely ignored.
Heavy security could be seen in airports, sea and bus terminals, as many people in the cities rushed home to their villages and provinces for “day of the dead” commemorations, said reports.
The Christian tradition dates back to ancient Rome, when it honored saints and martyrs who died for the faith.
The day after is All Souls’ Day, when those who want to avoid the crowds visit the cemeteries to pay their respects.
Though the day is supposed to be solemn, many Filipinos use it for family reunions at the tombs, where drinking and open-air karaoke sessions are held.
In many cemeteries in Manila, “apartment-type tombs” are stacked on top of one another several feet high, and a perilous climb may be required just to light a candle and say a prayer.
The Catholic Church put up a special website for the millions of Filipino workers abroad who were unable to return home to visit the graves of their dead. They can offer special prayers on the site operated by the nation’s bishops. AP PHOTO