Filipinos carrying flowers, candles, and bags of food thronged cemeteries across the Catholic-majority Philippines on Wednesday to pay their respects to dead loved ones on All Saints’ Day.
Hundreds of thousands of people fanned out across sprawling graveyards in the capital Manila to hold picnics on tombs or pray quietly in front of a relative or friend’s final resting place.
Among the visitors at Manila North Cemetery was Zenaida Cruz, 77, who walked slowly with her husband to the tomb of her parents and grandparents to offer candles and a prayer.
Cruz used to leave flowers at the gravesite, but inflation had pushed the prices of even simple bouquets beyond her limited budget.
“As long as I can walk, I will still visit, because this is a tradition,” Cruz told AFP.
“This tradition won’t fade, but of course, it won’t be as grand as before when there were many flowers and many candles.”
The annual ritual is an ancient Christian tradition honoring all saints and martyrs who died for the faith.
In the deeply religious Philippines, the day is a public holiday to enable people to travel hours to visit gravesites in far-flung parts of the country.
Police Colonel Arnold Ibay said he expected around a million visitors to Manila North Cemetery, where poor families live alongside the dead in shanties and mausoleums.
Jenny Rose De Vera, 31, was joined by her friends, family, and in-laws to offer her partner of 15 years pieces of prawn crackers from a fast-food chain and half a hotdog.
That had been his favorite food before he was killed in a road accident in September.
“It’s important (to visit the dead) so they can still feel that they are still important to us and that we will never forget them,” De Vera told AFP.