“We are going to do a memorial service in the mass grave in order to put closure to this, that people will know that it's time to move on,” said Tacloban City mayor Alfred Romualdez in an interview with GMA News' Saksi aired Thursday evening.
“We've given them (victims) proper burial. Now we will give them proper rites,” he added.
According to the report, there were a total of 2,273 individuals whose remains were buried at the mass grave at Holy Cross Memorial Garden in Brgy. Vasper. Majority of these individuals remain unidentified by their families though the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has already conducted DNA testing on the remains.
The city government, however, assured that the DNA test results of each body buried in the mass grave have been stored in the NBI database to help relatives in tracing and verifying the identity of the remains.
The mass grave was divided into 157 lots, with each lot measuring four meters by eight meters.
Leandro Alapoop, caretaker of the mass grave, said there were 20 bodies buried in each lot.
“Oo, magkakatabi. Bale nakasalansan lang isa-isa. Hindi naman nag-aabot 'yung katawan. Maganda ang pagkalagay namin,” recounted Alapoop on how they buried the remains being examined by the NBI since December last year.
He said families of the victims may request to recover the remains and transfer them to another cemetery as long as they can prove the identity of a particular body.
The report said that as early as Wednesday, some residents of Tacloban started arriving at the Holy Cross mass grave to light candles and bring flowers despite not knowing if their departed loved ones were really buried in the area.
For Eric Cidro, the least he can do to ease the pain of losing his wife, two children, parents and some other relatives when Yolanda hit the city in November last year, was to pray for them at the mass grave.
Cidro was left with only a sole photograph of his wife.
Though he was not able to see the remains of any member of his family, Cidro said he will offer flowers and candles at the mass grave and pray for the repose of the souls of his loved ones nonetheless.
“Wala talaga. May nakakita daw pero hindi na maituro kung nasaan,” Cidro said.
On November 8 last year, Yolanda ripped through central Philippines, claiming over 6,000 lives and leaving P39-billion worth of damages.