Here’s another good reason why you should stop being a foreigner in your own land: the Walking Dead. Sorry I mean the dead departed.
Yes, I know. You think you’ve seen the whole of the Philippines, right? You think all cemeteries are alike too right?
Here’s why you should do a little adjustment:
#10: CALVARY HILL, SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE
For the most part of the day, you won’t find anything special in this corner of Sagada – other than the fact that it’s a resting place in the mountains. But wait till evening falls, and you begin to wonder if you’ve been transported to some forgotten culture of long ago.
Yes, these people practice Christianity but through their lighting of Saeng bonfires to honor the dead Sagada cemetery comes alive in a Festival of Lights you won’t expect at this day of the year.
#9: BUD BUNGAO TOMBS, TAWI-TAWI
For its extreme height, this is one graveyard that won’t sit well with those who are weak-hearted, a true exercise of being patient. A full 314 meters above sea level.
And then if that were not enough, you have to survive through a forest to get to climb the place. Along the way, you’ll see cellophanes on trees believed to be a talisman of sorts to drive away the evil spirits. As one observer related, there are “plenty of tombs in the mountain” but only the leader of them tribes get the rights to be buried.
#8: SUNKEN CEMETERY, CAMIGUIN
Thanks to the volcano nearby Mt. Hibok-hibok, you won’t see much of this cemetery above ground. It’s all buried in water, 20 feet below, except for a large cross.
Well, if you really insist on visiting the dead, don’t forget to suit up with full scuba gear.
#7: NAGCARLAN UNDERGROUND CEMETERY, LAGUNA
From underwater, let’s take even deeper underground. The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is one of a kind in the whole Philippines. Built to answer the need of the times during Spanish times, the place is complete with a chapel and a slew of crypts.
These catacomb is sure to remind you of the ones in Rome. And because of its distinct location, the space was used as a secret hideout during the Philippine Revolution against the Spaniards and through the first against the Americans.
#6: MANILA AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL, TAGUIG
If you talk about space, this one will blow your mind away: a full 152 acres. Dubbed as the biggest American overseas military cemetery, the resting place is home to the fallen soldiers in WWII. That’s over 17,202 brave souls, both Filipinos and Americans.
In a way, the place is a symbol of the unique brotherhood of men – not minding of race but united by virtue of aspiration. Topping all these are also lost souls, names of soldiers who were unaccounted for in the great war – all 36, 285 of them etched in stone.
#5: CAMP JOHN HAY’S LOST CEMETERY OF NEGATIVISM, BAGUIO CITY
For a positive purist this place is a delight. No souls buried in this cemetery. Yes, not one dead body is found here.
Instead, you’ll find epitaphs of all things negative that are bent on destroying the human soul. Which should be handed a death sentence and not be allowed to grow.
#4: LIBINGAN NG MGA BAYANI, TAGUIG
Those true-blooded Filipinos who have so chosen to die for their country in a true act of courage and heroism are buried here. You’ll love the grounds as it has been carefully taken cared of over time. Fallen heroes of Bataan, defenders of Corregidor lay side by side in this resting place.
And yes, some presidents too: DiosdadoMacapagal and Carlos P. Garcia. Unfortunately, the remains of Marcos precede by his infamous reputation has been barred to join the elite club gracing the hallowed grounds.
#3: PROVINCE OF LEYTE
You won’t expect the province to be part of the list. But yes, Leyte is one helluva graveyard. In the height of Super Typhoon Yolanda, Leyte became witness to thousands of deaths so numerous stench filled the streets for weeks. And although most have been given their rightful rites of burial, there are many who are still missing, perhaps still rotting in some unseen nook and cranny in the unfortunate province.
#2: AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO
This burial ground was borne out of one of the most heinous crime of history. And on this site were buried valiant men and women who bore no arms but only their courage to fight for freedom of choice were mercilessly slaughtered, raped and dismembered. And subsequently hastily buried using heavy equipment in a mass burial that shocked the whole nation.
The place has been named Ampatuan, dubbed the most powerful family in the province. Sadly, the perpetrators of the crime were also from the same family.
#1: HANGING COFFINS, SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE
And for its uniqueness, the Hanging Coffins wins the top spot. You will not only wonder at the ingenuity, how difficult it must be to pull the whole thing through – with coffins hanging on the side of the mountain.
But more than that you will marvel at the rationale behind: It is believed that the higher the coffin, the closer one becomes to be with God. So the highest coffin is the most favored.
Makes me wonder those who died in Mt. Everest must be in the highest heaven.