By John Noel E. Herrera
The Iloilo City Government has started to prepare for the observance of “Fiesta Minatay” or the traditional All Souls’ and All Saints’ Days on Nov 1-2, 2022 following plans to fully open cemeteries and memorial parks to the public after two years.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said that all cemeteries and memorial parks in the metro will be allowed to accommodate visitors up to full capacity this year as cases of COVID-19 started to ease and health and safety protocols were loosened.
“Yes, we will open, we will allow (visitation in cemeteries and memorial parks), ano na, back to normal na, pwede na,” Treñas said.
The national government ordered the closure of all public and private cemeteries across the country in 2020, to prevent mass gatherings that may lead to the further spread of COVID-19 during that time.
In 2021, the city government only allowed COVID-19-vaccinated people to visit their departed loved ones from Oct 30 to Nov 2, 2021 and they were required to present identification cards before entering the cemeteries.
Treñas has already ordered the personnel of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) to start cleaning the public cemeteries as early as possible.
“Ti gin instructionan ko na (CENRO) nga sugudan na limpyo ang mga patyo, ang mga pilintahan ta nga dapat pintahan suguran na kay ti usual ta na nga gina-ubra para sa undas,” Trenas added.
The city government also encouraged the public that while they are already allowed 100 percent capacity in cemeteries, they still should be mindful of their safety, follow the minimum health protocols, and make their visits short.
The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), and Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO), together with the Philippine Red Cross and other volunteer groups will also prepare the protocols to ensure the safety of the public.
Meanwhile, some flower vendors in the city are hopeful that they will earn more this time as the public cemeteries will now be fully opened to the public.
“Tani subong mataas man amon kita kag makabawi man kami. Sang nagligad tuig daan wala-wala gid tungod sa pandemic,” a vendor from Jaro district said.
Another vendor also reminisced about their situation last year when they were all struggling to sell flowers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sang ligad tuig, pigado gid, damo lang manugbaligya, wala gid manugbakal. Tani subong, ti, makabawi man,” she said.
The observance of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day on Nov 1 and Nov 2, respectively, also known as Undas or “Fiesta Minatay”, is part of the Catholic tradition where people spend time visiting their departed loved ones in their resting places.