Domie Camacho Govendo has been visiting the Chalan Kanoa cemetery for about a week now, sprucing up the tombs of her departed loved ones in preparation for All Saints' Day yesterday and All Souls' Day today.
“It's one of those special occasions [that] you look forward to and make sure that your deceased loved ones are remembered and cared for,” said Govendo while enjoying the shade of the tree by the burial place of her mother, Monica C. Duenas, who passed away in 2005.
Govendo was among the throngs of Catholic faithful who flocked to cemeteries throughout the CNMI yesterday, putting up with the scorching heat of the sun to offer prayers and pay respects to relatives and friends who have passed on.
The Dandan resident, who arrived at the cemetery at 8:30am, said visiting the graves of dead loved ones has become a longstanding and very important tradition in an island community that is predominantly Catholic.
“Don't forget your loved ones every Nov. 1 and 2,” reminded Govendo, who was accompanied by her cousin Rita Cruz at the cemetery and planned on returning for the rosary and Mass.
The Chalan Kanoa cemetery, a usually empty place on a regular weekday, was distinctly eventful yesterday as visiting family members set up tents around tombs that were spotless and decked with wreaths and other floral arrangements.
Miguel Sablan, who considers himself a devout Catholic, deems All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day commemoration as something very important both for him and the rest of his family.
Sablan, who arrived at the cemetery from Navy Hill at 9am, told Saipan Tribune that he never fails to visit the cemetery every Nov. 1 and 2 and that he plans to spend some time at the cemetery as many of his loved ones had been laid to rest in different sections of the cemetery.
“This time of the year reminds us about the good memories and good deeds of all those who left us sooner. They are still a part of us and we cannot forget them. This is a special occasion for them,” said Sablan after lighting a candle for his aunt, Nieves Sablan, and cousin, Rita Sablan Tenorio.
Although All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day are not legal holidays, both are widely celebrated as religious holidays in the Commonwealth. Morning and afternoon Masses were held yesterday, with more church services to continue today at the Chalan Kanoa cemetery.