Celebration of Life
All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls' Day (Nov. 2), referred to locally in the Philippines as Undas, is a time to honor the memory of departed loved ones. However, this year, mass gatherings have been limited due to the pandemic. The Philippine government banned annual visitations to cemeteries for public health purposes. However, some churches, like the Manila Cathedral, will open their doors for mass in limited capacities.
So, what happens when a deep-rooted tradition collides with an unprecedented pandemic? Well, Filipinos will do what they always do: adapt. Adaptation is how Filipinos survived everything from Spanish colonization (which ironically brought All Souls'/Saints' Day to the archipelago) and World War II, to revolutions, dictatorships and record-breaking natural disasters. The chaotic year of 2020 is no different.
In this day and age, technology has made adaptation to a crisis much more manageable. Think about the underlying cause of viral infections and transmission. It's interactions and gatherings. Now, think about holidays in general, whether it's All Souls' Day or Christmas. They're all about interacting and gathering with loved ones. In essence, what is the Internet, particularly social media, about? Interacting with others around the globe in a millisecond and gathering around in virtual spaces. Do you see the big picture? The Internet was made for moments like this.
So, while it may seem like a downer to honor the departed online this year, that's how it has to go in order to keep you, your family, and society safe from a pandemic that has claimed the lives of 14 people this week alone. If you're not sure how to go about it, no worries. Memories is here to help you .
Keep reading to see how you can honor loved ones online in the time of COVID-19.
Undas in the Philippines has two critical elements. The first part is gathering with the family, both the living and the dead. Family unity is important because the living is to remind the departed that the latter are still part of the family, that they have not been forgotten. The second part of Undas (All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day) is about honoring the memories and legacies of the departed.
One of the best ways to honor someone's memory is by creating a dedicated website, such as a Memories Timeline, to host, archive, present and share their legacy. What do we mean by this? Well, first, it's best if you find out more here. A Memories Timeline is like a multimedia blog but is dedicated to presenting one's life (whether they're living or have departed). Users can add photos, text, videos, and other media. On top of that, you can invite members to join a Timeline, such as family members, who could then contribute comments and even collaborate with you on a digital scrapbook for your loved one.
This All Souls' Day, you and your family can create a Memories Timeline as a group project after mass. Just as you would reminisce and share stories at the cemetery during a normal Undas, you and your family can animatedly discuss which photos and videos to post on a Memories Timeline. We're sure there will be lots of funny stories told!
Another feature of a Memories Timeline is the Future Messages plugin. It allows you to send messages to loved ones weeks, months and years into the future. It's your modern-day time capsule. You can record with photos, videos or tex; schedule the message into the future; deliver via SMS & email.
It will make for another unique activity during this year's unique Undas. It's one that your family members would love. You can record messages to departed loved ones, to living loved ones, and to yourselves. That way, you can document what it was like to celebrate All Saints'/Souls' Day in 2020 and then set the Future Messages to yourselves to be sent on November 1, 2021. You'll have some nice surprises next year.
Although gift-giving is not typically associated with All Souls' Day, there is a sense of generosity during Undas. For instance, almost all families who visit the cemetery, or even just stay at home for a prayer session, host a dinner or picnic. Food is an important part of Filipino culture, not just because Filipinos love to cook and eat, but because sharing food with family members and friends is a time to bond with each other. Filipinos even leave trinkets, goods, and offerings for the departed. So, Undas is also like a Filipino version of Thanksgiving; a time to be grateful to be alive another day to share precious moments with loved ones.
This year, you can send people e-gifts from Memories' Gift Store. For instance, you can send Virtual Flowers and light up Virtual Candles, recreating the traditional practices of Undas. Likewise, you can send family members and friends actual candles. They'll surely appreciate the thought and generosity.
Zoom meetings have become popular during the time of COVID-19. First, it was used for business purposes since it was designed for that type of function. However, it quickly became a go-to platform for casual meet-ups among family and friends. It's like a video version of a group chat on WhatsApp or Facebook.
This All Souls' Day, you can still get together with family and friends by using Zoom and Skype. Since All Saints'/Souls' Day is rooted in Christian tradition, and the Philippines is a devoutly Catholic nation, families can use Zoom for group prayers online. In fact, many churches in the Philippines already use live streaming and video calling technologies to conduct masses and prayer sessions.
Speaking of group chats, you can supplement your Zoom gathering and Memories Timeline collaboration with text conversations. WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger are all popular apps in the Philippines and are used more than regular SMS. You can start a group chat with family, close friends, and even colleagues. That way, you can all greet each other on this special holiday and send virtual gifts.
Although the pandemic will prevent you and your family from visiting departed loved ones at the cemetery, you can still honor their memory in many ways. What's important is that you spend time with family and close friends no matter what obstacle life throws at you. Remember, the world will constantly change but traditions will never die.