Saturday, November 1, 2014

La Loma Catholic Cemetery - Of Stones, Graves and More of History

Campo Santo de Laloma or the La Loma Cemetery is a Catholic Cemetery here in Manila. It is surrounded by 2 other cemeteries: The Manila Chinese Cemetery and the Manila North Cemetery.

The place (with an area of slightly less than 54 hectares (130 acres) was once a hill, that is why it is called La Loma, and a certain Franciscan friar named Fr. Francisco Caviedas was responsible for creating this cemetery in 1884. It is said to be the oldest cemetery here in Manila. It was once known as Cementerio de Binondo (Binondo Cemetery) as the area was then under the jurisdiction of Santa Cruz during the Spanish Colonial Period.

It was almost afternoon when we got there, so well, sadly we can only tour just a few places, but it's still worth it.

Looking at the Internet, I saw some pictures of the La Loma Cemetery during 1899 and 1915.  As you can see, it has this large gate and it is facing the old San Pancratius Chapel.

Campo Santo de La Loma circa 1899 (from museo santisima trinidad)

Postcard ca. 1915 from the Alex R. Castro's collection
Today, the stone columns can still be seen, minus the wrought iron gates and the two figures on top of the columns.

Details of one of the column.

Speaking of the St. Pancratius Chapel. When we got to the chapel, the whole place was almost empty. It was "decommissioned" already... a 100-year-old structure can be dangerous. It has been serving as the official church of the La Loma Cemetery since 1884 to 1962. A new chapel was constructed near the entrance of the cemetery. 

St. Pancratius Chapel, circa 1900

St. Pancratius Chapel at the present time...

The things I dig with old cemeteries are the sculptures. You see, back then grave sculptures are produced mano a mano. That means it wasn’t mass produced using a mold. Since those were hand carved, the details are so fantastic.

There are even some forgotten, old mauseleums.

Since this is a Roman Catholic cemetery, dead nuns are buried here...

In World War II, the whole cemetery became a Japanese base. It is said that a lot of guerrillas and those who tried to fight the Japanese were executed inside the cemetery. Today, only this anti-aircraft gun was all that remain.

Famous people buried in La Loma Catholic Cemetery:

Cayetano Arellano's Mauseleum

  • Felipe Agoncillo (1859-1943), leader of junta to Hong Kong in 1898.
  • Marcela Agoncillo (1860-1946), wife of Felipe and creator of the national flag of the Philippines, along with their son and Delfina Herbosa in Hong Kong
  • Carmelino G. Alvendia (1906-1982), a former justice of the Court of Appeals
  • Cayetano Arellano (1847-1920), 1st Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court
  • Librada Avelino, founder of Centro Escolar University
  • Victorino Mapa (1855-1927), 2nd Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court
  • Pablo Ocampo (1853-1925), resident commissioner to the US Congress
  • Joseph E. Stevenot (1888-1943), one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines
  • Oscar Ocampo Tagayon (1950-2011)
  • Ignacio Villamor (1863-1933),Delegate of Ilocos Sur at the Malolos Congress(1889). First Filipino President of the University o the Philippines.(1915). Associate Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court(1918).

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