PHILIPPINES. Manila: Manila City and other local governments cancelled many holidays and celebrations that Filipinos normally observe. These include All Saints Day (1 Nov. 2020), All Souls Day (2 Nov. 2020), and the Feast of the Black Nazarene next year (9 Jan. 2021). Christmas parties and other celebrations that involve mass gatherings are also on hold.
Many cities followed Manila City and closed their cemeteries to prevent people from going there on All Saints Day. However, people can still visit their departed relatives before the set date of closure. Local businesses relevant to this celebration are affected and are struggling to make ends meet.
Day of the Dead cancelled
Every year a wave of people visit their dead in cemeteries called Undas, which Filipino Christians observe on All Saints Day. Nevertheless, Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso signed Executive Order No. 38 to close their cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbaries from 29 Oct. to 4 Nov. to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He added in the report of the Inquirer, “I will cancel this directive if the vaccine arrives on 30 October.”
San Juan City, Mandaluyong City, and Marikina City followed Manila City to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Also, all Metro Manila mayors agreed to do the same. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia, in a report of the Business Mirror, said, “It [the decision to close cemeteries] will be unanimous.”
The businesses in Manila City are directly affected in the observance of Undas. The flower shop seller Roel told Transcontinental Times about the situation in Dangwa, the city’s flower shop district. He said, “Few people are coming to buy flowers for their dead, and business is slack as compared to the last year.”
Jupiter, a gravestone carver, told Transcontinental Times, “Just thankful and lucky to get two works done for our income. Before, we got ten or more job orders in my 20 years as a gravestone carver.”
Other festivals and celebrations on hold
Local government units cancelled their Christmas parties alongside the closing of cemeteries in Manila City. Valenzuela City, Navotas City, and others also decided to cancel their scheduled Christmas parties to comply with health guidelines. Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said in a Manila Times report, “We cancelled all Christmas parties because of these hard economic times. We know the pandemic affected many of us. It would not look good that while most of our fellowmen suffer, they see their public servants holding parties.”
However, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte not only cancelled their Christmas party but also redirected the funds for COVID-19 purposes. She said in her press release, “The funds for Christmas party will become donations for the underprivileged in these extraordinarily difficult times.”
Manila City Mayor Domagoso cancelled the Feast of the Black Nazarene as announced in the report of CNN Philippines. This is an agreement with Quiapo Church because of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The festival is the largest mass gathering, with almost 3 million devotees in the parade.