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Filipinos troop to cemeteries on All Saints' Day

Sentimental Filipinos not afraid of ghosts and terrorists as they troop to cemeteries on All Saints' Day

Thousands of Filipinos troop to a public cemetery
Image Credit: Reuters
Thousands of Filipinos troop to a public cemetery to visit their departed relatives in Manila on November 1, 2010.

Manila: Millions of Filipinos demonstrated they were not afraid of ghosts or terror threats as they trooped to cemeteries to honour their dead during All Saints' Day, a national holiday.

Ghost stories had been in the headlines, together with terror threats, in the days leading up to Monday's All Saints Day.

Cora Colona, a resident of southern suburban Paranaque where her father was buried at the Manila Memorial Park, said: "It's the only time we visit the dead. We venerate them despite the storm, heavy traffic, and terror threats".

Former President Corazon Aquino and her husband, martyred Senator Benigno Aquino, were also buried in the same cemetery in 1986 and 2009, respectively.

Susan Apila, who visited the tomb of her mother at suburban Marikina's Loyola Memorial Park, said: "I don't mind the crowd and terror threats during All Saints' Day. Let's say we mingle with the ghosts. And I think terrorists would not have the heart to disturb cemeteries despite the crowd."

Chona Alonzo said lovingly at Manila's crowded La Loma Cemetery: "I brought food for my son who died 10 years ago."

Apart from offering flowers, food, and cola drinks to the dead, Filipino families also hold picnics at cemeteries on All Saints' Day.

"It's like a holiday and not a time for meditation," Alonzo said.

All Saints' Day in the Philippines is as popular as Halloween, which is celebrated in the United States on October 31.

Thousands of metropolitan Manila residents went home to their respective provinces last Friday to take advantage of the three-day long holiday.

Police were deployed at air and sea ports, in bus terminals and in national highways, to help protect those going home for the holiday.

While the population of 10 million people in metropolitan Manila dwindled over the weekend as a result, authorities took seriously the reported terror threats abroad and ensured a police presence in crowded cemeteries.

Authorities quietly established check points with bomb-sniffing dogs at cemeteries. Entry points were contained and cemetery-goers were frisked and checked for guns, pointed objects,  bombs, and alcoholic beverages.

Local government units permitted first aid stations and police stations near cemeteries across the nation, it was reported.

"We are after crowd control and we want order in crowded places," a policeman said.

"We also encourage the people to visit the dead. We want the day safe for them."

President Benigno Aquino said that Filipinos were never deterred by terror threats during All Saints' Day, despite reports of foreign and local terror threats.

Recently, alleged parcel bombs were intercepted in the United Kingdom and Dubai, on planes that were bound for the United States.

And nine people were killed during a bus bombing in the southern Philippines, also the home of five million Filipino-Muslims.

"So far all of our intelligence sources tell us that if there are threats, we have already stepped up security after the bus bombing," Aquino said. He added that in his country: "We are looking primarily at domestic threats".

He also said that intelligence reports said there was no terror threat "from foreign sources," despite the affiliation of a local Muslim bandits with the Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian branch of the Al Qaida terror group.