The morning of All Saints’ Day last Nov. 1, 2019, started early for family members who woke up early to clean their departed loved ones’ grave sites, to prepare for the rest of their family and friends who also came later in the day, to honor and pay respect to departed loved ones.
It was peaceful and quiet at the Veterans Cemetery in San Roque, as well as at the Cemitério in Tanapag, with grave sites decorated with flower and candle offerings, as part of the Roman Catholic tradition of honoring the dead.
A man, who asked for anonymity, and who was up early to paint his loved one’s grave, said that mostly everyone on the island traditionally celebrates All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day to remember their loved ones who have already passed away.
Ramon Dela Cruz was also early at the cemetery in Tanapag, putting flowers on his late granddaughter’s grave.
“We are here for our lost loved ones, once a year, every All Souls Day,” Dela Cruz said. “I came here for my granddaughter. She died two and a half years after she was born. We always do this every year to come and ask our loved ones to guide us and watch us always.”
Priests from the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa also go to the cemeteries on the island to pray for the souls of the departed as well.
All Souls Day, which is celebrated on Nov. 2, as well as All Saints’ Day, are observed in the predominantly Catholic CNMI as a day of remembrance and commemoration. All Souls Day traditionally end with a Roman Catholic Mass at the Chalan Kanoa Cemetery.