MANILA -- A group organized by concerned citizens is set to hold a virtual memorial this weekend to remember all the Filipinos who have died of COVID-19.
The upcoming National Day of Mourning will be held on Sunday, May 9, at the Damay + Dangal Facebook page.
Concerned Artists of the Philippines chair Bibeth Orteza and former Social Welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo shared what the public can expect from the event in an interview on ANC's "Headstart" on Friday.
Orteza said the "Damay + Dangal" event coincides with Mother's Day as it is also dedicated to the "Inang Bayan."
"We all realized that there's a need to grieve as one. You just don't get together and, 'Uy community pantry, masaya tayo,' but also to grieve as one," she said. "I know this kasi as a cancer survivor, all you need to do is to look in the eye of a fellow cancer survivor and you know you are one."
"Lalo na po ngayon, with all the deaths from COVID and other causes, makipagtinginan ka lang sa pamilya ng nawalan sa panahong ito, the pain is such na... You can only move towards healing by mourning together," she added. "And as we mourn together, we also come up with a firm resolve that the ones who left us will not have died in vain."
According to Taguiwalo, behind the numbers of death are stories, names and faces of the fallen.
"We have heard of doctors, we have heard of nurses, we've heard of entertainers. But there are also mothers, fathers, and children. So we want to at least [share the stories] stories and names behind these numbers," she said, revealing that "Headstart" anchor Karen Davila has agreed to be one of the readers of names during the event.
"For the start, we're going to have 75 names takes from news reports, volunteered by friends, and well as Facebook posts. And we have asked permission from them," she added.
According to Orteza, "Damay + Dangal" will be hosted by actress Iza Calzado and will have guests performers like her son, Rafa Siguion-Reyna.
She said they are hoping to end a show with a performance from Gary Valenciano.
"We are hoping to get the final approval, kasi we'd like Gary Valenciano to end the show. You know 'yung kanyang kanta, 'yung 'Take Me Out of the Dark,' there's a line there. It's about 'all those who left without saying goodbye,'" Orteza said.
"When I heard that line, immediately I thought of my brother. If the passing of someone with COVID in the family still has great impact on me after a year, lalo na 'yung iba [na] walang Facebook, no one to condole with them," added Orteza whose brother, a pediatrician, died April last year because of COVID-19.
For Taguiwalo, "Damay + Dangal" is not only about mourning and prayer, but is also a call for people to reflect and make a stand for a better nation.
"This is going to be an interfaith program with Catholics, protestants, as well as muslim prayers. We hope that there will be more people joining this National Day of Mourning as a starting point to reflect on why so many people have to die during this pandemic, and what we could do to avoid it, and how we improve our health system. How do we make sure that ayuda is given as fast and as soon as possible," she said.
"So it's going to be a prayer, mourning, but also reflection, and hopefully [we can] make a stand for a better nation so the deaths will not be in vain," she ended.