Trying to be different can be a good thing. And especially if different is the better way of doing things. Bucking national guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, however, doesn’t seem to be the better way.

The IATF has called for the closure of all cemeteries in the country from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 to prevent mass gatherings that could contribute to the spread of Covid-19.

Anything wrong with this guideline that we need to defy it? Is it impractical? Unreasonable? Oppressive?

Not by any measure. In fact, this guideline, not much different from the one issued last year, makes sense given the Filipino custom and tradition of gathering in groups during Nov. 1 and 2.

In the past, this resulted in a deluge of travelers at bus terminals, ports and airports. This was avoided last year with pandemic restrictions that included the closure of cemeteries during this period.

Filipinos traditionally return to their hometowns during the period of “undas” or “kalag-kalag,” allegedly to pay their respects to the dead but for many people, it is really to meet up and mingle with the living—friends and family members.

And while this is not reprehensible behavior, this is not advisable at this time.

Filipinos, as we all know, will dream up all kinds of excuses to party. If you look at the hordes of people buying liquor in the days leading up to Nov. 1 and 2, you’ll know what I mean.

I understand there are many motivations behind public policy especially at this time. With elections coming up, our local leaders are all eager to please the electorate. Well, I’m not running for any post. So, I’m just going to say it as it is.

It doesn’t serve the interest of the public to open the cemeteries on Nov. 1 and 2. These dates invite people to gather. Yes, there are rules in regard to who can go, how long they can visit, what they cannot do inside the cemetery. But these rules will only give rise to fake vax cards, graft and corruption, physical altercations.

And why waste precious time, energy and manpower on enforcement of visitation rules at the cemetery?

Why not just encourage people to go now as we did last year—at any date they desire except between Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. No special rules to enter cemeteries. No special forces to man gates. Let everyone go—vaxxed or unvaxxed.

It’s simple, doable, reasonable. No need to police people. No need to check vax cards. No need to monitor movements of visitors. Covid case counts are falling. Why do we want to decimate all the gains we have achieved up to this point?

There is no value to being different if being different just means being dumb and dangerous.