Manila Chinese Cemetery - Luxurious Compound for the DeadMonday, February 04, 2013Ryan Mach
When D, a traveler I met in El Nido, told me he wanted to see the Manila Chinese Cemetery, I wasn't sure I was ready to jump on board. Seemed like a sad, creepy site but after doing some online research about the place, my curiosity suddenly got tickled. D's flight back to Amsterdam was scheduled at around 12 midnight so he had a few hours to spare. He certainly didn't want to spend his free time doing nothing. We met at Robinsons Mall in Malate where we deposited his stuff. From there, we took a cab to the cemetery.
I initially planned on going to the Chinese Cemetery by taking the train, so D can also experience how Manila trains work but a little hiccup he encountered at Terminal 1 took some of his precious time so we opted for a much faster transport option. En route to our destination, D shared with me his awesome experiences traveling in the Philippines (mainly Palawan and the Visayas region). He only had great things to say about the country - friendly people, great beaches and cheap but decent accommodations - which made me so proud about my homeland that I almost cried (kidding).
We arrived at the cemetery at around four in the afternoon. Ideal time of the day to do a visit, in my opinion. The sun isn't too hot during this time so you'll feel comfortable roaming around. After paying Php100 for the entrance fee, we were given permission to go inside the gated necropolis. As we were walking along an empty street, we were approached by a guide who offered his tour services for Php700 an hour. My companion thought this was a bit expensive so we said no. The guide lowered his rate to Php500.
Second Oldest Cemetery
Most Expensive Cemetery
The compound, occupying a large piece of land in Sta. Cruz, features a pageant of handsome and expensive Chinese mausoleums, memorials and tombs built with various architectural styles that were in vogue for the last century. Some of these mausoleums have crystal chandeliers, air-conditioners, even hot and cold running water, kitchens and -beat this - flushing toilets! Our guide, Lakay, told us that such stuff aren't for the dead, but for the living who visit their loved one who passed away.
"Only for the land?" I interjected, looking incredulously surprised.
I glanced at the slum area nearby and was momentarily distraught by the fact that this burial compound has way better homes for the dead compared to the living.
Not Exclusive for Chinese
The Importance of Having a Guide
A Different Experience
How to get to Manila Chinese Cemetery
The cheapest and fastest way to get to Manila Chinese Cemetery is to take the train - LRT-1 and alight at Abad Santos Station. Once you've gone down from the station, take a left turn and head to the southeast direction, walk until you reach the South Gate of Chinese Cemetery. Alternatively, you can ride a tricycle from Abad Santos station (Php30). Or if you have some money to spare, better take a cab.
More photos can be found on my Facebook Page.