Ilocos Norte Honors Lives Lost To COVID-19

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Nearly 400 flags were installed Monday on the grounds of the provincial capitol in honor of the lives of Ilokanos lost due to COVID-19.

Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc, who led the tribute and joined the family members of those, who succumbed to the virus, said the initiative highlighted the traditional Ilokano tradition of “pananglagip” or remembering the dead.

Each flag honors the Ilokano and frontline heroes, who “have fallen after batting COVID-19, and a reminder to strengthen our resolve to prevent such deaths in the future,” Manotoc said.

Monday’s commemoration could be the closest to a local tradition or ritual among Ilokanos, who had to bury their dead in haste due to restrictions and health protocols.

“COVID-19 has robbed away our opportunity to honor the deaths of our loved ones,” said Manotoc.

In a statement Tuesday, the provincial government said “many people have been unable to say farewell in ways that go with their religious beliefs and traditional grieving practices.”

Since the pandemic began in 2021, those who died of COVID-19 were buried or cremated within 12 hours under strict Department of Health (DOH) protocols.

Health authorities and funeral parlor workers were asked not to take the remains to “any place of public assembly, and viewing of the deceased shall not be permitted,” but observe the “principles of cultural sensitivity” in doing so, according to the DOH.

As of Monday, the provincial government recorded 377 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began in March.

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