Cemeteries and columbaria are closed on All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2), but Filipino families have found ways to honor their departed loved ones during a super typhoon in the middle of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Mayee Navarra, a customer service representative from Antipolo, said she and her family will light a candle for her grandfather since they failed to visit his grave before cemeteries were closed on Oct. 29.

“We’ll light a candle, pray, and hear online mass. But we’ll also visit his grave on Nov. 8,” she said in an interview with Philippine News Agency.

She notes that the Catholic practice of lighting of candles for the dead has always been done to augment prayer and drive away evil.

This year, Navarra said she will also offer prayers to the thousands of Filipinos who have lost their loved ones to Covid-19.

“A little prayer goes a long way,” she said.

Letting go of rituals will be difficult, but Navarra said she and her family would have to comply with quarantine protocols especially since her 76-year-old grandmother won’t be allowed outdoors.

“Of course, my lola (grandmother) wants to visit lolo (grandfather), but she will have to wait. I’m sure lolo will understand,” she added.

Under the government guidelines, persons aged 21 below and 60 above are not allowed to go out unless it is for accessing essential goods and services and for work.

For Earnest Natividad, 27, a nurse from Morong, Rizal, his family will be visiting his grandfather’s grave when cemeteries reopen. They also failed to visit ahead of time due to work.

“My lolo died last September so we might visit his grave when cemeteries reopen,” he said.

Since the funeral took place when Rizal’s quarantine classification was eased to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), he said they were lucky enough to have family members and other relatives attend.

“We got the chance to mourn together because Rizal was already under MGCQ. When quarantine levels were more stringent, some don’t even get to pay their last respects anymore,” he said.

While others have decided to visit their dearly departed when cemeteries reopen, some were able to do so ahead of the temporary closure.

Benz Maturan, 32, an IT professional, said the columbarium where his grandfather’s ashes are kept is only a short walk away from their house so he had no problem visiting.

“I volunteered to be the family representative to visit lolo. But I’m sure the rest of the family would visit him if they had the chance, if it was safer,” he said.

Asella Cruz, 29, an entrepreneur from Bicol, said her family was able to visit their grandfather’s grave two weeks before cemeteries were closed to the public.

“My parents went to the cemetery before it closed. They offered candles, flowers, and food,” she said.

Unfortunately, she did not get the chance to accompany them because she had to travel to Manila for work.

The government ordered a closure of cemeteries nationwide from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 due to the prevailing health crisis and now Super Typhoon Rolly is battering parts of the country.

Earlier, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged the public to send prayer requests for their departed loved ones via the “Undas” website.

The new website offers online Masses, audio and video reflection, and catechesis on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day.

Currently, Filipino families in disaster-prone areas have sought temporary shelter in evacuation centers including churches and chapels.

Aside from praying for their deceased loved ones, the Catholic clergy also urged the faithful to pray for safety and protection from the super typhoon. (Azer Parrocha, PNA)