10/31/12

Roaming the Manila North Cemetery

It’s that time of the year once again when the Urban Roamer embarks on a different roaming adventure to visit not a place for the living, but a place for the departed ones. This time, it is a privilege for me to finally get the opportunity to visit the largest public cemetery in Metro Manila today: none other than the Manila North Cemetery.

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Originally, the Manila North Cemetery was part of a bigger cemetery complex owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila that included what are now the La Loma Cemetery and the Chinese Cemetery. After the allocation of the property to the Chinese community in Manila for the building of their own cemetery, 54 hectares was parceled off from the original property for use as a public cemetery, a cemetery that will be open for anyone who wishes to be buried there, regardless of religious or ethnic background. (in contrast to the aforementioned cemeteries that were already in operation at the time) By 1904, with the American government set firmly in place in Manila, and the Philippines in general, the cemetery which was also known before as the “Cementerio del Norte” was opened.

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08/30/12

A shrine for the Revolution’s Grand Old Lady

If there is one real-life proof that can be shown to the adage that “one can never be too old for anything,” our history provides such in the life of Melchora Aquino, (1812-1919) the “Grand Old Lady of the Revolution” popularly known to many as “Tandang Sora.”

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In her 80’s, as the Philippine Revolution was beginning to unfold and would eventually break out, she helped provide a venue for secret meetings for the revolutionaries, giving them comfort, shelter, and even medical aid to those wounded in battle. While she never fought in battle, revolutionaries and the Spanish authorities recognize her invaluable contributions to the revolution. In fact, the Spaniards deemed as dangerous enough that she was arrested and sent to exile in Guam. She would eventually return as the Americans took over the administration of the country and would live on until her death at the very age of 107. Continue reading

11/5/11

“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds*” the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

*quote by General John Pershing, American war hero who served during the First World War

From 1941-1945, the Philippines was a part of a greater battlefield that was the Pacific theater of the Second World War as the forces of Japan and of the United States clashed in a series of encounters aptly described as “hell on earth.” Countless lives were lost as a result, especially among the American troops who fought valiantly for their motherland.

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Once the war was over, the United States government drew up plans as to how to honor its fallen troops. A decision was made to put up a memorial ground on what was then the sprawling soon-to-be former military grounds of Fort McKinley (renamed a few years later to Fort Bonifacio) in the soon-to-be-independent US colony that was the Philippines. As soon as the Philippine government gave the green light, work began on what was to be the largest American war cemetery in terms of size. (it was, after all, 152 acres of land) Continue reading

10/29/11

Death: Chinese style at the Manila Chinese Cemetery

It’s that morbid time of the year once again. And continuing the tradition I started last year, the Urban Roamer is going to take you once again to some creepy place in the metropolis. Creepy and interesting at the same time.

For this adventure, we are back at Manila’s old cemetery complex. While we visited the Catholic cemetery of La Loma the last time, this time we are at a neighboring cemetery known as the Manila Chinese Cemetery.

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11/8/10

Paco Park: from mournings to weddings

These days, you may find it weird that a park can be situated in an unlikely neighborhood of sorts, surrounded by buildings and commercial establishments, right in the middle of intersecting roads which make it look like a rotunda plaza. Despite how “unfriendly” the site of Paco Park is today, it holds so much historical and cultural value that it has deserved the needed attention and preservation, all the more so now as urbanization and the decay it has brought is a serious threat not only to the park’s landscape but throughout the city as well.

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