During the last week of October, the main entrance to Manila North Cemetery looked like a small-town fiesta, ahead of All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebrations, reports NCR.
The area was draped with pale blue streamers forming a canopy above the road leading to the burial grounds. White and yellow dominated the dozens of flower and candle stands that lined the road, staffed sometimes by entire families, including children putting together flower arrangements.
Many vendors offered junk food and soda to the steady stream of visitors walking in and out of the cemetery. On Wednesday, a number of visitors dropped in carrying cans of paint. Others had coarse, stiff brooms tucked under their arms. Jomart Congreso and a companion were laden with bags of paint as they walked briskly toward their family's gravesite.
"It's for our grandparents, aunts and uncles," Congreso said. "We have a lot of relatives (who've died) so we have to paint five gravestones."
He said the paint job would take about five hours, then they would spend more time tidying up around the graves. By the end of the day, everything would be ready for when the entire family returned Friday, locally known as "Undas."
"We'll pack some meals and then pray," the 30-year-old told Catholic News Service. "We'll pray so that their souls are at peace and they have quiet."
In the Philippines, the Day of the Dead usually is celebrated on November 1, All Saints' Day. This is when people visit their loved ones' graves bearing food, flowers and candles and sometimes music - when it's allowed at the cemetery.
The visits are often festive and become family reunions of sorts, and they can last into the night or even through the next day. Some families camp out and stay through All Souls' Day, November 2. If people cannot make it to their loved ones' graves November 1, they go the following day. The idea is for family and relatives to commune with their loved ones during these two Christian holy days that commemorate the dead.
Photo: A man applies paint on his relative's tomb at a public cemetery yesterday in Manila