Friday, October 31, 2014

Manila Chinese Cemetery... It's not just a cemetery, its history. (Part 1)

Last week I got to tour 3 of the famous cemeteries here in Manila: The Manila Chinese Cemetery, Manila North Cemetery and La Loma Catholic Cemetery. [ A special thanks to Mr. Rence Chan and his Walk With Chan's Spooktacular Tour. ]

Ok... so I begin with the Manila Chinese Cemetery. 

Chinese cemetery, Now maybe you're wondering why a separate cemetery for the Chinese? 

The 54-hectare cemetery was created in 1879 as a burial site for Chinese citizens that were denied burial on cemeteries run by the Roman Catholics during the Spanish period. If you will remember your Noli Mi Tángere, there was this scene where Father Damaso ordered Don Rafael Ibarra's corpse be moved to the Chinese cemetery, Right?

The paupers, non-Christians, victims of communicable diseases, and enemies of the colonial government were relegated to the Chinese Cemetery for burial. That makes this the third oldest cemetery here in Manila, next to the La Loma Catholic Cemetery and Paco Cemetery (Paco Park). The place was once called Paang Bundok, that means it is higher ground, a perfect burial ground for the Chinese. Through the years, as more Chinese rich interred their dead here, the cemetery was acquired by the Philippine-Chinese Charitable Association, Inc., and became a private cemetery. Don Carlos Palanca Tanchueco ( Tan Quien Sien) and Lim Ong contributed in purchasing both the present Chinese cemetery lot and Chinese General Hospital.

Strange that in the bombing of Manila by the Japanese in 1942, the cemetery was spared. Maybe the Japanese believed that destroying graves will bring bad omen. During World War II, the cemetery became a Japanese base and a lot of people were killed inside its gates. 

According to my friend Mr. Rence Chan, a typical family cannot just buy a burial plot outright at the Chinese Cemetery; the family must properly coordinate with the Philippine- Chinese Charitable Association that had control of the site, proper measures, paper works must be done in order to secure a family burial plot . A family plot can only be leased for twenty-five years then can be renewable for another 25 years and so on. However, if one had achieved exemplary accomplishments in life — toward the betterment of the society  while living, that  person could be rewarded a burial site for free as in the mausoleum for Chinese martyrs and fire volunteers.

One thing I like about the Manila Chinese Cemetery is the ambiance and it is so clean. Obviously, the Chinese really respect their departed. No muddy road, no garbage in the street. We went there at 7AM, so I guess it was still not too much traffic.

Before entering the southern gate, there are many vendors selling colored papers, incense,  red candles with Dragon designs and of course flowers. 

In the Southern Gate is the "Millionaire's Row." 

Obviously you know the reason why is it called Millionaire's Row. Rich Chinese are buried here... beautiful, large mausoleum. Clean pavement... nice.

One thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of monuments here of prominent Chinese who fought the Japanese during World War II.

The pictures below was the marker that points where was Apolinario Mabini was once buried. When Apolinario Mabini (considered as the "Brains of the Philippine Revolution" ) died because of cholera at the age of 38, his body was temporary been buried here in the Chinese Cemetery ( He's a member of the Free Masons so what do you expect? ).
It was later transfered in Barangay Talaga, Tanauan in Batangas in 1956.

Near the Mabini monument is another prominent Filipino Chinese...

Ma Mon Luk (the Mami King) considered as the one who popularized the mami -  was also buried here in Manila Chinese Cemetery, together with his two wives. 

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