‘Loved ones should not be forgotten’


A gravesite is riddled with Super Typhoon Yutu debris as family members clean up the site. (Erwin Encinares)

Despite the widespread devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu, many Saipan residents still managed to make the traditional visit to the graves of their departed loved ones during yesterday’s All Saint’s Day.

With many areas of the Chalan Kanoa cemetery still riddled with debris such as roofing tins and some fallen trees, some families were able to use the opportunity to remember their loved ones.

For the Tudela family, who drops by the cemetery each year, remembering their departed loved ones is a way of giving back to them.

“It’s a yearly thing here in the Chamorro culture. It’s just a religious thing. They helped us a lot, and we can’t repay them for what they had done for us,” said Alvin Tudela, who was visiting his parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties, and some other family members when Saipan Tribune chanced upon him and his spouse, Zoranelle Camacho and daughter, Alana.

“Even though we had a big storm, we still try our best to fulfill [our annual duties],” he said. “It’s an appreciation for them too. Every day is an appreciation for them,” he added. “We are trying to show them that we are here. It’s a good way to express gratitude.”

His wife, Zoranelle, believes that remembering their loved ones on All Saint’s Day is also a way to get some breathing air from the challenges of Yutu, “the devastation and how everybody is suffering,” adding that she and her family are not exempted from the hardship. “For us, family is always first, even though they are deceased. At least there is a remembrance in our heart and soul,” she added.

Robert Cepeda, who was also at the cemetery, told Saipan Tribune that he finds a way to visit his father, no matter the situation.

“We have to check if there is damage in the cemetery. We have to clean it; we have to take care of it, make it beautiful,” he said.

Cepeda was with his aunt at his father’s gravesite, cutting overgrown grass and weeding the area. “Every [All Saint’s Day] I visit my father,” he said. Cepeda visits his father’s grave to repaint the site and maintain it.

“I sometimes visit with my family and my brothers, with my friends at times,” he said. Cepeda said he repaints the site every year.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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