Earth Files


A scene in Valenzuela city cemetery. Photo from PNA.

Cemetequette is a term coined by environment- advocate EcoWaste Coalition for“Pinoy Cemetery Etiquette.”

Nov. 1 and 2 are Undas days for the predominantly-Catholic Filipinos. Undas is derived from the Spanish word “honrar” which means “to honor.”

Nov. 1 is All Saints’ Daywhen we honor the saints that we all go to for refuge and comfort in times of need. Nov. 2is All Souls’ Day when we remember our loved ones who have departed.

As we troop to the cemeteries to observe this beautiful tradition, let’s make sure that wedo our share in making life worth living.

Cemetequette was produced by Eco-waste Coalition six years ago and they remain relevant. In fact more so as we deal with more serious traffic congestion and environment degradation.

Here are some Cemetequette friendly reminders:

1. Pick clean-burning candles that do not yield black fumes or soot. Set alight a limited number of candles to reduce heat and pollution. Do not let candles’ plastic receptacles or holders to burn.

2. Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, or consider bringing potted plants and flowers instead. Simple, inexpensive flowers will do. Avoid wrapping floral or plant offerings in plastic, which will sooner or later end up as trash.

3. Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water. Discarded plastic bottles add up to the country’s garbage problem. Plastic bottles, which are petrochemical products, also require lots of oil and chemicals to manufacture.

4. Go for waste-free meals. Say yes to reusable carriers, containers, and utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and silverwares. Say no to throw-away bags, wraps, foil or Styrofoam, paper napkins, and forks and spoons. Also, refrain from patronizing junk food and go for simple yet nutritious home-prepared baon.

5. Buy less or only as much as you know you will consume in terms of food and beverage to avoid spoilage or wastage. Bring bayong or other reusable bags to carry your stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers from vendors.

6. Cut your waste size by not creating trash in the first place such as by purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and avoiding single-use plastic disposables.

7. Don’t litter, dump or burn trash in the cemetery. Do not throw cigarette butts, candy wrappers, discarded packaging, fruit peels, etc. on the ground. Remember to leave the resting place of your loved ones litter-free.

8. Put your discards into the recycling bins if available. Better still, bring your own discards bags and bring them home for sorting, reusing, recycling or composting.

9. Relieve yourself only in the proper place where one should. Keep the urinal or toilet bowl clean as a courtesy to the next user. Do not defecate or urinate in public places.

10. Refrain from smoking in the cemetery. Be considerate to the children, the elderly, pregnant women and others around you who may be saddled with respiratory and heart ailments.

A big crowd is expected in cemeteries and memorial parks. Contribute your share in easing the situation by doing the following:

  • Follow the traffic signs, rules and regulations as instructed by the cemetery management or the local barangay or police.
  • Keep watch over your children and do not let them run wild around the place. Show them the meaning of paying respects to the dead. The cemetery is not a playground nor a theme park; no running over the graves and no fights and shouting matches, too.
  • Be courteous (and stay out of trouble) by not walking over the tombs or standing on top of a grave.
  • Refrain from playing blaring music with car stereos, CD players, mp3s, iPads, iPods, iPhones or radios. The cemetery is not an amusement park or a place to show off your new gadgets; use a personal headset so as not to get in the way of other people.
  • Be happy with your departed loved ones without being boisterous. The cemetery is not a fish market or “palengke,” tone down your voice so as not to disrupt or infuriate others.
  • Refrain from engaging in disruptive or raucous activities such as playing board, card or computer games, bingo, mahjong,“truth or consequence,” “spirit of the glass,” etc.
  • For your own convenience and safety, opt not to remain in the cemetery after dark, especially in places with no adequate lighting and security.

Have a meaningful Undas.

This story is produced by VERA Files under a project supported by the Internews’ Earth Journalism Network, which aims to empower journalists from developing countries to cover the environment more effectively.